Duncan Hodge begins life with Fiji as Pacific Islanders benefit from heavy Scottish presence

Former Scotland stand-off and Edinburgh attack coach Duncan Hodge gets his spell as Fijian assistant under way on Saturday when the Pacific Islanders take on Spain in Madrid.

Duncan Hodge has teamed up with the Fijians after leaving Edinburgh.
Duncan Hodge has teamed up with the Fijians after leaving Edinburgh.

Hodge joined up with Fiji in October after departing Edinburgh in the wake of head coach Richard Cockerill’s exit. The 47-year-old teams up with another ex-Scotland international in Richie Gray, as well as former Ireland hooker Rory Best, to support acting team manager Gareth Baber.

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Vern Cotter is Fiji’s head coach, but due to travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus, Baber – who will become Edinburgh’s assistant under Mike Blair after the international period – has been handed the reins for the autumn tour, with Fiji playing Wales next weekend before a match against Georgia. Baber led the Fijians to Sevens success at the summer Olympics and is due to check in for Edinburgh duties on December 1.

Cotter will still have an input in team selection, saying: “It’s been different liaising from a distance but things have been well prepared by Coach Gareth and his team and from my perspective, I have been talking with Gareth around team selection and how the team should play at certain parts of the game. I have been looking at all the training content and videos which the coaches have sent through and I’m sure things are going well.”

Fiji have given a start to Edinburgh’s Mesulame Kunavula against the Spainish, while former Glasgow Warrior Leone Nakawara also starts. Edinburgh duo Leeroy Atalifo and Bill Mata are on the bench.