Fiji coach wants Radradra for World Cup
TRY-SCORING machine Semi Radradra will remain in French rugby for another two years with a view of representing the Flying Fijians at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Radradra, 25, will leave powerhouse Toulon to link up with Bordeaux at season's end.
The Parramatta Eels had hoped of luring the wing sensation back for 2019 after leaving the NRL club last year.
Radradra scored an incredible 82 tries in just 94 matches for the club during his five-year stint at the Eels and represented Australia once in 2016.
But he will now turn his attention to forcing his way into John McKee's Fijian squad, as well as the national sevens team at April's Commonwealth Games, after a spectacular debut season with Toulon.
McKee said this week that Radradra had signalled his intention to stay in rugby since last November.
"I spoke with Semi in November when we (Fiji) were up there (in the northern hemisphere) and he expressed to me that he wanted to play for the Flying Fijian,” McKee said.
"But I'm travelling north in late February to get some face-to-face time and club visits up there, but Semi's high on my list to talk to and I'll be visiting Toulon in the not too distant future, and hopefully I can let him know my plans and where he can fit in with us.
"If he keeps up the current form expect to see him playing for the Flying Fijians before the year is out.”
Radradra grew up playing rugby in Fiji and represented the Island Nation in rugby sevens before being picked up in the NRL.
After making his debut on the wing for Toulon against Bordeaux in October, Radradra has since settled at outside centre where he's formed a formidable partnership alongside former England speedster Chris Ashton.
With damaging wingers Nemani Nadolo and Josua Tuisova featuring on the wings for Fiji, McKee said that Radradra would likely push for a position in the national squad at outside centre.
"He hit the ground running at Toulon,” McKee noted.
"He started well from the get-go.
"He showed his experience from playing rugby union previously in Fiji.
"He understands the game and he's been playing well up there at 13 and on the wing, which to me is quite interesting because we've got a lot of very good wingers and it's hard to fit them all in the team, but 13 is a spot which is a little bit more (open).”
Radradra is likely to make his debut for Fiji during their June internationals.
The Flying Fijians will host minnows Romania, Georgia and Tonga at home, before three yet-to-be-announced fixtures against tier-one nations in November.
Fiji made significant progress on the field last year beating Scotland and Italy at home, before narrow losses to the Azzurri in Catania and Ireland in Dublin.
It's expected that Fiji will play Ireland, Scotland and Wales during their end-of-season tour this year.
The tier-one matches are a significant boost for Fiji rugby in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, where they are bullish about their chances of making it to the knockout stages of the competition.
In 2015, Fiji - along with England - was knocked out of the World Cup after being pooled in the 'group of death' against Australia, England and Wales.
And while they will come up against the Wallabies and Wales again in the 2019 World Cup pool stages, they are the third ranked side in the pool.
With the World Cup fast approaching, McKee said that not a moment could be wasted and said only players staying in rugby in 2019 would be selected to play for Fiji this year.
"With our limited time together I've really got to make sure that the players who play in 2018 are players who can go through to the Rugby World Cup,” McKee said.
"We can't waste any time we assemble.
"Every time together is valuable preparation for us for 2019.
"I think for June the window's there to look at a couple of fringe players for the Flying Fijians.
"But certainly for Semi his indication to me in November was that he was committed to rugby union and Europe in the medium term and was very, very interested on hearing what my plans were through to the World Cup.”