Simon Raiwalui is the man responsible for bringing structure to this exciting Fijian side. He has only been in the head coach position since February 2023 but it is clear that he is the right fit.
He was born in New Zealand and schooled in Australia where he played with Joe Roff and Ben Tune. His rugby journey as a player took him to Sale Sharks, Newport, Saracens, and the Newcastle Falcons.
Due to birthright, he played for Fiji 39 times and the Pacific Islanders 3 times.
What he has brought to this Fijian side has been structure and discipline where they needed it most.
No one in the world doubts the fact that the Fijian players are the best athletes in the whole of world rugby. They are also the most skilled (by a long shot) and equipped with depth, understanding, and a vision for scoring opportunities.
But they have always lacked the structure and the continued focus required in the longer formats of the game. Their scrums, lineouts, rucks, and mauls used to only be good some of the time.
This has certainly changed under Raiwalui and the team now boasts solid phase play. They still don’t have all the defensive aspects in place, and they still find it challenging to play for the full 80 minutes, but in time, they will certainly get there.
Considering what Raiwalui has accomplished in a short time span, I fear for the rest of the teams, especially if the Fijians continue to build on their successes.