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Source: Fiji Rugby Union
The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) has responded to claims by former Fiji 15s captain Greg Smith that he was refused the opportunity to coach the Flying Fijians.
Smith was quoted on a local daily on June 6 that “he had opted to join the Samoan camp after the FRU refused him earlier this year”.
FRU chief executive officer Manasa Baravilala says the purported statement from Smith needed qualification from the FRU because it failed to take into account the exhaustive process that went into selecting the national coach.
“Greg was shortlisted from a very competitive and exhaustive list of applicants from around the globe.
However, he was unsuccessful,” Baravilala said.
He revealed the reason for Smith’s unsuccessful application remained confidential, however the player was made aware of the reasons.
“His unsuccessful application remains proprietary information, however Smith sent a follow-up email to the FRU selection panel seeking an explanation and was advised by IRB’s Brian O’Shea the reason he was not given the job.”
The FRU head coach’s selection panel consisted of Brian O’Shea (IRB consultant), Ilaitia Tuisese (FRU deputy chairman), Sikeli Tasere (FRU president) and Baravilala.
While Smith’s application may have been unsuccessful but Baravilala revealed the FRU remained indebted to Smith for all he’d done for Fiji Rugby over the years.
“He has done a great deal for Fiji rugby and was a player and a leader who put his body on the line at every opportunity – he never took a backward step.”
“The FRU is also aware he remains a strong supporter of Fiji, and this was evident during last year’s Rugby World Cup when he was selected to present the jerseys to the team before their final match against Wales – by all accounts this was a very emotional occasion.”
Smith had a colourful rugby career with Fiji spanning over nine years from 1995 to 2003. Selected by Brad Johnstone in 1995 for the Europe tour, Smith showed dedication and passion for the game and the country his father was born in. He gained 44 caps and skippered the Flying Fijians to the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Smith is currently the forwards coach for Samoa who will play against the Flying Fijians in their second Pacific Nations Cup match in Tokyo today.