‘Too early to assess performance’

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Fijian Drua chief executive officer Mark Evans. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FT FILE

SWIRE Shipping Fijian Drua chief executive officer Mark Evans says while it is too early to accurately assess the team’s performance, only having debuted in its first season last year, he adds it has captured Fiji’s imagination of the sport to a noteworthy degree.

In an interview at the Drua home base in Nadi yesterday, Evans said it was too early to draw many conclusions from the team’s first year.

“It was an extraordinary year. The team left the island in November (2021), didn’t come back till well into the next year (2022). That generated huge amount of increased costs that were not predicted,” Evans told this newspaper.

“And also meant that some of the functions you would normally have made progress with in the first year didn’t actually take place.

“On the field, which is obviously one of the matrixes, I think the team probably slightly exceeded expectations, particularly given the home field advantage which is a significant thing in all sport.

“But particularly given the climate differentials within the competition, the Drua wasn’t able to take advantage of that, means that I think the performance on the field that was all the more notable.”

Evans said in some ways, this season would be the first proper with the whole team together in the country.

“We’ve got a new base, we’re all together, we’ve got longer time to prepare, so I think in some ways, it’s way, way too early to assess how well or not well the Drua did in different areas.

“So we’ll have a much better idea into the first whole all-island season. But I would say that it has captured the imagination of the country to a significant degree.

“The commercial sector has been terribly supportive, really good, really impressive.

“And we’ve made some significant strides in pro-development in terms of creating the development squad, identifying some youngsters and bringing them into a largely full[1]time program.” Evans said sport was “quite a long term business” and one would not “sensibly assess the Drua’s performance across the piece until at least the end of three years, and probably if you want to be more accurate, over five (years)”.

The Fijian Drua played 14 games in the first season. It won two games — against Rebels 31-26, Moana Pasifika 34-19 and nearly created three upsets with two of super rugby’s greatest teams — Highlanders 27-24, Chiefs 35-34, and the Reds 33-28.

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