(Reuters) - Former Fiji lock Simon Raiwalui has been appointed as Australia’s new forwards coach until after the end of next year’s World Cup in Japan.
The 43-year-old replaces former Argentina international Mario Ledesma, who left the Wallabies to coach Jaguares in Super Rugby this season.
The job brings back Raiwalui to Australia for the first time in over 20 years, following a playing career in Britain with Sale, Newport and Saracens, who he captained in the English Premiership.
“I’ve learned so much about the game in the Northern Hemisphere and I think it’s been crucial for me as a forwards coach,” he said in a statement.
“There’s so much focus on that side of the game in Europe so I hope I can bring home some of those learnings to Australian rugby.
“The World Cup is a key target of course but I’m very keen to get back home, get to know the players and then help where I can with the Super Rugby teams before the Ireland series coming up.”
Raiwalui, who played alongside former Wallaby Ben Tune and Joe Roff for the Australian Schoolboys, will start the role after completing his club duties with French club Biarritz.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said a number of international and Australian coaches were in the mix for the role but the appointment of Raiwalui was ultimately a simple decision.
“We had the luxury of taking our time to ensure we had a lot of detail in our selection process and the final choice of Simon was very clear for us,” Cheika said.
“His quality of character, along with his technical detail and passion for Australia was a mix that proved a very potent argument for his selection.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney