Vern Cotter believes Super Rugby boost will help keep Fiji talent at home

Fiji head coach Vern Cotter believes the introduction of Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika to the Super Rugby competition from 2022 can help halt the drain of rugby talent from the Pacific Islands nations.

Cotter has revealed a lack of opportunities to remain at home rather than accept lucrative contracts in Europe, Japan and USA – along with the option of choosing to represent another country – is evident when he tries to recruit talent for the Fiji national squad.

Cotter told SunSport: “It’s the hesitation in their voice when asked to play for Fiji.”

World Rugby has committed to helping fund the two Pacific Islands teams for an initial three-year period to support the two franchises.

The Moana Pasifika team is comprised of Tonga and Samoan players and the inclusion of both new outfits in Super Rugby is subject to New Zealand Rugby Union’s agreement.

Submissions must be delivered by the end of this month showing that funding to support the World Rugby money can be found from the individual Islands nations and private investors.

Cotter said: “Yes, this is a very positive start with this encouraging support package from the governing body towards Pacific Island rugby. We all know how important and exciting this Super Rugby team will be for Fiji.

“Families will be thrilled to see professional pathways opened up for local talents and also to see some local players return to Fiji from overseas clubs.”

Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer, John O’Connor said their business plan had already been delivered and added: “Then it will be decided if we can have a licence and then we can start to sign players and everything.

“We are currently in the process of tidying some things up. Most of the players cannot wait for the opportunity.

“Most of them are interested in coming back but many obviously have contracts that they need to fulfil.”