Ryan plans to do things the Fijian way
September 20, 2013
Ben Ryan will hope for more success like Fiji experienced last season on the Gold Coast © Getty Images
Ex-England Sevens coach Ben Ryan is relishing the opportunity of making Fiji the best side in the world but admits it will take time for him to get used to his new challenge.
Ryan was announced as Fiji's new head coach on Friday, having completed the deal with their rugby union on Thursday evening. Originally he was going to join the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) as a technical adviser, but he will now head up their side.
He only left his role in charge of England's Sevens team last month but Fiji have acted quickly to snap their man up with the Gold Coast Sevens just a couple of weeks away.
The IRB World Series escaped Ryan's grasp during his seven-year tenure in charge of England but Fiji are no strangers to success having lifted the series title back in 2006. Success is what Ryan seeks with Fiji but he will barely have a chance to get used to his new surroundings before the first leg of the new season of IRB Sevens which starts in Australia on October 12.
"There is a bit of nervousness about it but as a coach, all you really want is the best talent available and in Fiji, that's what they've got," Ryan told ESPN. "I tend to try and do everything I can to help them.
"I'll be lucky if I have more than a couple of training sessions before the Gold Coast so everyone has to be a little bit patient before they start to see the gains I'm going to give them."
Ryan revolutionised Sevens in England during his time with the Rugby Football Union and brought in central contracts. Improving Fiji's Sevens infrastructure is one part of his remit with the FRU (Fiji Rugby Union) and Ryan plans to work within the Fijian culture to achieve his goals.
"I'm not intending to do things the English way, it will be the Fijian way," Ryan added. "I'm going to have to adapt as much as they are. That's just one of the things you have to do as a coach. It's another good challenge for me and certainly I imagine there will be some hard times ahead but that's what you put your name on the dotted line for.
Ryan will be coaching a team wearing a different white shirt this season © PA Photos
"One of the attractions of bringing me in was to help develop a legacy like I've done in England. While in England coaching the coaches is well done, it has not really happened in Fiji. One aspect of my role will be to do that so we get some class operators who can one day take over from me when I move on.
"And on the playing front, we have all seen what happens when they hit their straps like they did in Hong Kong and on the Gold Coast I'm just going to try to bring some consistent performance levels to the Fijian guys. I'll be slowly changing a few things, but only a few things and I will stick with the way the Fijians play the game."
It is inevitable that at some time during the forthcoming season, Ryan, who jokes he may have to develop a new Factor 500 to cope with the tropical conditions in Fiji, will come up against his former employers, but he hopes it will be a while before that match-up.
"I feel lucky and privileged to have this opportunity with Fiji. I wish Simon all the best with England. And I have to say, I'm not really looking forward to playing England and I hope that doesn't happen for a while. But I'm wearing a different white shirt now and I'm going to do everything I can to make Fiji the best team in the world."
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.