An experienced coaching quartet has been confirmed to assist new Flying Fijians rugby mentor Vern Cotter in the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup.
Former New South Wales Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson, current Crusaders assistant coach Jason Ryan and former test referee Glen Jackson have signed on to help their Kiwi compatriot, while breakdown specialist Richie Gray previously worked with Cotter during his time in charge of Scotland and Montpellier.
A former All Blacks midfielder, Gibson spent eight years as a Super Rugby assistant coach before a four year stint in charge of the Waratahs. He's also had roles with Glasgow Warriors, the Maori All Blacks and Manu Samoa and will be entrusted to help unleash the Flying Fijians backline against France, Italy and Scotland.
"He has the maturity to help with the back line and we have Jason Ryan who has won four titles with Crusaders and brings all the standards in High Performance probably from the best franchise," Cotter mentioned.
Scrum guru Ryan has also worked with the Black Ferns women's team and the New Zealand Under 20s, while Glen Jackson is a former Chiefs, Saracens and Maori All Blacks first five who recently hung up his whistle after nine years as an international rugby referee.
"Glen Jackson is good at handling skills and if he can sensibilise and also give players a clear understanding of what referees see and how they act," Cotter explained.
"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."
Richie Gray worked with the Springboks during the 2015 Rugby World Cup and Cotter said he was looking forward to linking up once again with the "rug-contact" guru.
Vern Cotter returned to New Zealand after his final season in charge of Montpellier was cut short because of Covid-19 but has been in regular contact with his coaching group for the past couple of months, who he described as experts in their respective technical areas.
The 58 year old is due to announce his first Flying Fijians squad in the coming weeks and hinted that Crusaders duo George Bower and Manasa Mataele could be in line for a call-up.
We've obviously got our New Zealand based players that we're having a very close look at," he said.
"I've got Jason Ryan who works at the Crusaders - obviously he's got George Bower and Mataele with him."
Bower, 28, was born in New Zealand to Fijian parents and featured in the North versus South Island clash two weeks ago, while Mataele, 23, made his Super Rugby debut in 2017 but has only made two appearances since a major knee injury last year opened the door to fellow Fiji-born flyer Sevu Reece.
Fiji open their Nations Cup campaign against France on 15 November.