Weather, playing style and proper off-seasons behind recommendations.
Fiji’s top players should look for contracts in Australia and New Zealand rather than Europe if they want to improve their game, national coach Inoke Male said Wednesday.
While Europe remains the most popular destination for Fijian internationals playing club rugby, Male said its restrictive style often cramped the natural flair the Pacific islanders bring to the game.
In contrast, he said, the type of game in Australia and New Zealand suited Fijians better and they often settled in those countries more readily than in European nations.
“From what I’ve experienced, the loneliness, environment, weather, these are contributing factors and some of our boys lose their touch of brilliance when they are playing in Europe,” he told AFP.
“It is only in Europe where we lose out because it’s like two different types of play altogether.”
He said southern hemisphere nations also included a proper off-season in their competitions, unlike Europe.
“It (an off-season) is a must if you want to become a professional athlete,” he said. “In Europe, it’s a 12-month competition in which you rest only at Christmas, then off you go again.”
Male said having players based in New Zealand and Australia would also make it easier to assemble them for international duty, particularly given the reluctance of some European clubs to release players for Test matches.
Fijian rugby league players have had great success in the Australian and New Zealand competitions. Many players are now declaring for their home country for international representation, including league legend Petero Civoniceva.