The Flying Fijians will strictly comply with all health procedures regarding the COVID-19 pandemic while in their camp in Limoges (Haure-Vienne), France.
This was confirmed yesterday by Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor as players started to arrive in camp.
“We know of the situation in France regarding the coronavirus and there are restrictions in place for our players and officials to strictly follow,” he said.
“There’ll be no outings and for training, the team travel by bus from the hotel to the ground and when it’s over they board the bus and go straight back to the hotel.”
The seven players in the Barbarians squad along with head coach Vern Cotter and assistant Glen Jackson are going to arrive in camp today.
“Some players from the United Kingdom are going to arrive late and even a few are going to be in camp by October 31.”
O’Connor said they had a few players on their list who were likely to replace injured Bristol Bears centre Semi Radradra, but the final decision would be made by Cotter.
Meanwhile, former Fijian Under-20 captain Temo Mayanavanua is looking forward to playing alongside his idols Nemani Nadolo and Leone Nakarawa during the Autumn Nations Cup.
The New Zealand-based lock is one of the 12 uncapped players in the 32-man Flying Fijians squad for next month’s Autumn Nations Cup in Europe.
The 22-year-old made his international debut in Fiji’s Killik Cup 33-31 win over the Barbarians last year but, with COVID–19 continuing to cause havoc around the world, the prospect of playing Test rugby this year wasn’t even on his radar.
According to Radio New Zealand, the former Suva Grammar School student is excited and ready for the test match.
Having followed in the footsteps of Fijian rugby legend Rupeni Caucaunibuca with Northland, the soon-to-be 23-year-old now find himself poised to play alongside another Flying Fijians legend.
“We never know when is the next time we’ll ever play alongside these great names and the likes of Nemani Nadolo, who came back from his short retirement from international rugby, and Leone Nakarawa who plays in the same role as me.
“This is an opportunity where I would go and learn off them and continue to learn and continue to be students of the game and learn as much as I can in this tour. I always tell myself to be like a sponge that just soaks up the water of knowledge out of all these experienced players.
“To be honest I wasn’t really looking further than (playing for Northland in) the Mitre 10. I’m a person who takes one game at a time, one season at a time,” he said.
“I like to narrow my focus because that’s how I give my 100 per cent in whatever I do. I honestly thought because of the COVID restrictions to travel and stuff, the eight nations Flying Fijians team would have been made out of just Fijian players in Europe.”
But Cotter had other ideas and Mayanavanua received the good news before Northland’s opening Mitre 10 Cup clash against Manawatu last month.
Mayanavanua made the move to New Zealand in 2018 on the advice of his uncle, Olympic gold medal-winning Fijian sevens captain Osea Kolinisau, after turning down a lucrative contract in France.
“I grew up and I was raised in his house and he and his older brother were the ones that advised me: ‘If you want to really chase to become a great player you’ve got to go to these countries…New Zealand, Australia’, he said.
“A lot of people said that I made the wrong decision by turning down contracts from France at that young age, because I got an opportunity to earn good money at an early age but for me, it was all about developing and, for me,
“I honestly thought that I wasn’t ready yet to chase that money.”
Not long after he received a phone call in church from former Flying Fijians prop Graham Dewes, who was coaching the Waipu club in Northland and was in desperate need of a powerful presence in the second row.