Fiji coach Cotter confirms staff for European tests

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Fiji coach Vern Cotter has confirmed his staff for test matches later this year in Europe with Canterbury Crusaders forwards coach Jason Ryan joining fellow New Zealanders Daryl Gibson and Glen Jackson and Scotland’s Richard Gray.

New Zealander Cotter, who was in charge of Scotland’s national team from 2014-17 and spent more than a decade coaching in France, took over from John McKee as Fiji coach after last year’s Rugby World Cup.

He overhauled the coaching staff, bringing in former international referee Jackson as a skills coach.

Jackson, who spent nine years as a referee after a long professional playing career in New Zealand and England, would also help teach the players how to deal with officials.

“This will help us a lot because if we can cut down the discipline and the penalties against us, it will make us less vulnerable,” Cotter said in a Fiji Rugby Union statement.

Former All Blacks midfielder Gibson, who was in charge of the New South Wales Waratahs from 2016-19, will be backs coach, while Gray, who worked with Cotter in Scotland and France, has a specific role around the breakdown.

Fiji will play France on Nov. 15, Italy on Nov. 21, Scotland on Nov. 28 and a final game the following week against England, Wales, Ireland or Georgia.

The matches have been organised after COVID-19 restrictions prevented southern hemisphere teams going on their usual end-of-season tours of Europe.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford