June 05, 2017
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Top coaches join Flying Fijians panel

Two world class Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coaches have been added to the Vodafone Flying Fijians program, adding experience and expertise as the team builds up for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Former Head of Athletic Performance for the Queensland Reds, Damien Marsh has been appointed the Head of Athletic Performance at Fiji Rugby Union’s High Performance Unit (HPU) and former Head of Athletic Performance for Japan Rugby, John Pryor has been appointed the Vodafone Flying Fijians Head Strength and Conditioning Coach.

FRU Chief Executive, Mr John O’Connor said they are grateful to engage the specialist coaches.

“The engagement of Damian Marsh and John Pryor to the coaching panel of the Flying Fijian and to our HPU Department presents great opportunities for the Flying Fijian players, our Elite programmes, domestic rugby (primary, secondary, clubs, provincial) and Fiji Rugby in general,” he said.

“The FRU and the Fiji Rugby family welcome the two officials into the Fiji Rugby family and look forward to their specialised contribution towards the enhancement of the strength and conditioning of our players. We are confident that this will lead to enhanced high performance through the rugby structures in the country. Both officials bring vast expertise and experience in the field.”

“The addition of Damian and John will hugely benefit Fiji Rugby’s High Performance program and is a bit of a coup for us. They are, quite simply, world class exponents in the S & C, an area where Fiji has historically lagged the best in the world. Their influence can only help the Vodafone Flying Fijians and Coach John McKee as they target Japan 2019.”

“Whilst there will be a strong focus on our World Cup qualification and preparation, we expect that the expertise both of the guys bring will flow down to all National Teams, including 7’s, and positively influence all of our Domestic pathways.”

Marsh is one of the leading Strength and Conditioning Coaches in Australia with over 20 years of experience in the sport, health and fitness industry.

He has worked with professional sporting teams for 17 years including the ACT Brumbies and most recently Queensland Reds Super Rugby Teams; the latter of which he was Athletic Performance Director.

He has also physically prepared teams in three Super Rugby Championships (Brumbies 2001, 2004; Reds 2011).

Internationally Marsh has carried out Strength and Conditioning duties with the Australian U21 (2002-2004) and Australia ‘A’ Rugby Teams (2003-2007).

He is regarded highly within the Strength and Conditioning profession for his knowledge and experience in training and preparation of elite athletes.

Marsh recently resigned as Head of Athletic Performance for the Queensland Reds in order to take on the role with Fiji Rugby.

He stated that he always admired the passion displayed by Fijian people and the amount of support they receive from fans.

“It is a great opportunity to join John McKee's coaching staff and I’m excited to play a role in developing the team’s rugby specific physical qualities.”

Marsh’s role will cover all FRU High Performance (HPU) teams.

Pryor on the other hand is an internationally recognised strength and conditioning expert, with a lengthy record of extracting the best from players and teams that he has worked with.

The innovative strength and conditioning coach has demonstrated time and again that superior training methods are critical in achieving success at the elite levels of international sports competition.

Pryor was the Head of Athletic Performance for Japan Rugby Union for 5 years and played an integral part of that team’s surprising run at the 2015 World Cup, where they defeated powerhouse South Africa, with many observers recognising that the team’s fitness program was at the heart of their triumphant showing.

He has over 20 years of experience working with High Performance Sports programs, and for the past decade he has been working at the highest levels of rugby, working with the Australian and Japanese Test teams, as well as Super Rugby and Japanese Club squads. Pryor currently consults for the ACT Brumbies and Suntory in Japan.

“I was head of performance for Japan for 4 years before the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Preparing for the PNC was part of that job. Fiji was the team that always gave me and the coaching staff nightmares. But I also very much enjoyed the Fijian style,” he quipped.

Marsh traveled with the Flying Fijians to Melbourne yesterday for their test match against the Wallabies this Saturday while Pryor will join the team in August as he has pre-existing speaking engagements in the United States of America through June and July.

By Reginald Chandar

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