March 27, 2018
Former Flying Fijians Captain Simon Raiwalui has been added to the Wallabies coaching panel.
Raiwalui, 43, was announced as the new forwards coach by Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and he replaces Mario Ledesma, who took the reins of the Jaguares in Super Rugby this year.
Born in New Zealand and educated in Australia, Raiwalui played Australian schoolboys alongside former Wallabies Ben Tune and Joe Roff and club rugby with Sydney side Manly.
He made 46 appearances for Fiji and had a decorated playing career in the UK and France, captaining English side Saracens.
Raiwalui joined the coaching ranks at French powerhouse Racing 92 in 2012, before switching to their Top 14 rivals Stade Francais in 2014, and moving to Biarritz this season.
He said he hoped he could draw on his global experiences in his new role as he returns to Australia for the first time in 20 years.
Raiwalui will join the Wallabies at the end of Biarritz's season, ahead of their June Series against Ireland.
“I’m very excited to move back to Australia and the chance to work alongside Michael (Cheika), Stephen (Larkham), Mick (Byrne) and Nathan (Grey) was one that I just couldn’t pass up," he told ARU media.
“I’ve learned so much about the game in the Northern Hemisphere and I think it’s been crucial for me as a forwards coach. There’s so much focus on that side of the game in Europe so I hope I can bring home some of those learnings to Australian rugby.”
“The World Cup is a key target of course but I’m very keen to get back home, get to know the players and then help where I can with the Super Rugby teams before the Ireland series coming up,” Rawalui said.
Coach Michael Cheika said Raiwalui's appointment was ultimately a simple decision.
"We had a quality group of candidates for this role from Super Rugby, International Rugby as well as French and English Rugby. Australians and foreigners," he said.
By Reginald Chandar