FIJI have tasked Waisake ‘Wise’ Kativerata with leading them in the 2025 World Cup after he took charge at short notice for last year’s tournament.
The 46-year-old former Bati international from the capital city Suva has formally replaced Joe Rabele.
Ex-Penrith Panthers and Sheffield winger or forward Rabele, 57, was in charge leading into last autumn’s World Cup.
But he was hospitalised by a foot infection after arriving in England, and eventually had to have a toe amputated.
Former St George Illawarra Dragons, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Parramatta Eels winger Kativerata, Fiji’s national coaching director, jetted in to take the reins.
Assisted by ex-Super League coaches Brian McDermott and James Webster, he took Fiji to the quarter-finals, where they pushed New Zealand all the way before losing 24-18 at the MKM Stadium in Hull.
Kativerata has now been appointed as full-time coach, alongside his existing role.
“Wise has the capacity and grit to undertake this critical role,” said Aporosa Lutunauga, Chairman of Fiji’s national association.
“He is among the few who has NRL high performance coach level three (qualifications) with the highest success rate in nurturing and developing elite Fijian players for the NRL.”
Kativerata is credited with recruiting players such as backrower Viliame Kikau, who recently switched from champions Penrith Panthers to Canterbury Bulldogs, and Canberra Raiders back Semi Valemei to the NRL.
Fiji reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2008, 2013 and 2017, and as quarter-finalists last year, have automatic qualification for France in 2025.