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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
McCallion wants better rugby
Sisa Koyamaibole is among the Fijians playing rugby in Japan
Sisa Koyamaibole is among the Fijians playing rugby in Japan
Fijian coach Mac McCallion has called on his players to improve their standard of club rugby in a bid to boost the international side.

Half a dozen of the current squad ply their trade in the company league in Japan.

But McCallion insists his players need to be going elsewhere in time for the 2007 World Cup.

He told "I am very concerned about the standards of rugby that some of our international players are playing.

"I consider Japanese rugby to be easy rugby, a kind of casual competition and I have yet to be convinced that Fiji players playing in Japan come back to the national team as better players.

"I can't choose for the players where they play their club rugby but I am only going to get more vocal on this subject in the future - our best players need to be playing their rugby in the best leagues in the world. That's how we develop."

Although Fiji boasts a new wave of talented youngsters, McCallion has opted to rely heavily on his more experienced internationals.

The time to change guard is after the rugby World Cup
Mac McCallion

The 35-year-old Waisale Serevi is among the players preferred by the Fijian national boss, although there is still room for the likes of Rupeni Caucaunibuca, the 23-year-old who lit up the Super 12 with his pace from the wing for the Auckland Blues.

But McCallion insisted going for experience was the only option for October's World Cup.

He added: "I would like to have a younger side at the rugby World Cup but Fiji has not been preparing long enough for us to do this.

"The time to change guard is after the rugby World Cup and that is what the French team did in 2000. They are building from a young team a three or four-year programme to take them to the World Cup.

"Because we didn't start in 2000 and 2001 with a changing of the guard, we have to rely on the experience where we can find it, which is with our more mature players now."

Fiji open their World Cup bid against France on 11 October.

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