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Expat or local row as Fiji hunts a new national coach
November 12, 1999

As Fiji begins the search for a new national rugby coach a debate has broken out over whether the replacement for Brad Johnstone should be an expatriate or a local.
The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) has recommended to the national team board that a local be considered, assisted by an expatriate technical adviser similar to the position held by George Simpkin in 1987 when Jo Sovau was coach.

But there are those, among them FRU president Apenisa Kurisaqila and Johnstone, who believe Fiji should get an expatriate. Locals lack the sophistication and the expertise to handle modern rugby, they say.

"I don't think there is a person within Fiji who has the level of professionalism to compete on the international arena," Johnstone said.

Johnstone, who was judged by London's Sunday Times as the best coach at the recent rugby World Cup, is believed to be eyeing a span as coach for the All Blacks.

He has confirmed sending his curriculum vitae to the New Zealand Rugby Union but does not rank his chances high.

The former All Black prop has been with Fiji for the past five years, guiding it back to recognition as a force in the international XVs game.

Kurisaqila gives Bradstone the credit for this revival and for the respect Fiji enjoyed at the recent World Cup tournament where the side was beaten by England in a quarter-final play-off match.

One person who has publicly made known his decision to seek the Fijian coaching position is Fiji Sevens team manager, Epeli Lagiloa who holds a New Zealand level three coaching certificate and an IRB level two certificate.

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