Sport: Ben Ryan looking forward to joining Fiji 7s team
Fiji's new Sevens coach, Ben Ryan, talks about his new role and the challenges ahead.
New Fiji Sevens coach Ben Ryan admits he's got a lot to take in over the coming weeks but says he's excited about getting started in his new role.
The 42-year-old spent six years in charge of the England team before stepping down earlier this year and has been appointed to the Fiji job until the 2016 Olympics.
He told Vinnie Wylie it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
BEN RYAN: I've played against them 21 times, and beaten them 11 times and lost 10 times. So we've always had some absolutely titanic battles, really. And I think I probably felt the same as every other World Series coach. When you play Fiji there's a time, sometimes, when they hit their straps when they really get themselves into the zone, that it's inevitable what's going to happen next and they run riot. It'll be nice to be on the other side of that now, and hopefully do my bit, do what I can so the team can get the consistency, so we see those sort of performances week in, week out.
VINNIE WYLIE: An interesting challenge, as well, because you, with England, you guys really led the way in terms of contracting players and making them Sevens professionals. And it's a completely different ball game in terms of what resources you've got to work with.
BR: And I'm certainly not expecting the facility that I've had in England or the availability of being able to salary full-time players to the levels that England have enjoyed. But what they have got in Fiji, which is something that perhaps the other nations haven't, is the depth of talent. And if we can organise the pathways for this talent identification and development and retain the best players that are currently playing on the islands then it's going to be a very powerful programme going forward. That's the same for the coaches. I want to spend a lot of time with the young coaches in Fiji to help them, to improve them, to get them to the level where they can take over and run national programmes.
VW: How much of this is Fiji buying into the Ben Ryan Sevens philosophy and how much of it is you knowing what they want to do, as well, and coming to a middle ground.
BR: The last thing I'm going to do is come in and make a lot of sweeping changes. I'm going to certainly just come in and have a good look at what's going on at the moment and keep the Fijian style of play and their culture at the heart of everything we do, really, and just add one or two things along the way slowly that I think will make a real difference to them on the field in the technical things they do, and also to make sure that their playing programmes and the database stuff is as good as it can be so we go to every tournament with a real chance of taking silverware.
VW: And how will it feel lining up and having to coach against England?
BR: (Laughs) I'm not really looking forward to that. I'm not a coach that's suddenly going to think we've got to prove that we're better than my old team. I hope we don't play England for a while. I won't particularly be looking forward to it. But at the same time I'm now coach of another team and all my energies and all my emotional intelligence and hope is going into the Fijian side now. And England can know just because i've left doesn't mean i've suddenly cut off my friendships that i've had for a long time with them and management. But it's a professional sport and I'm 100% committed to Fiji and Fijian rugby.
Ben Ryan's first tournament in charge of Fiji will be the Gold Coast Sevens in just over two weeks time.
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