Dave Campbell of NZ Rugby News tells us that the man who is responsible for introducing some of Fiji’s finest rugby talent to New Zealand rugby has come under fire from the Fijian Rugby Union.
Glen Subritzky is at the centre of an investigation by the FRU, who have written to the International Rugby Board and the New Zealand Rugby Football Union to investigate his credentials.
The investigation was sparked when Subritzky passed on information to the FRU in regard to the unavailability of Rupeni Caucaunibuca and Vula Maimuri for Mac McCallion’s Fijian trials.
Speaking to Teivovo last week, FRU chief executive Pio Bosco Tikoisuva said: “We have initiated discussions to see whether (Mr Subritzky) holds the appropriate IRB international licence that would allow him to conduct business between two rugby unions.
“We have also written to the NZRFU asking them to confirm if (Mr Subritzky) is a senior official within the Northland Rugby Football Union club circuit, and he would then be potentially conflicted in acting as an agent for players Vula Maimuri and Rupeni Caucau.”
The former Fiji captain said the IRB regulations state that player agents can only act for one party in any transaction.
“When you are negotiating on behalf of a player for his salary, allowances and benefits, the rules expressly forbid you from also being an official affiliated to the club or union that will be doing the employing,” he said.
“You can’t sit on both sides of the fence in a deal like this.”
Subritzky, who discovered Maimuri while honeymooning in Fiji six years ago and was also instrumental in bringing Fero Lasagavibau and Caucaunibuca to Taniwha country, was clearly upset by the incident. The Northland businessman asked Blues Professional Development Manager Ant Strachan to step in when the reports came out of Fiji last week.
Strachan, who played 11 tests for the All Blacks from 1992-5, feels the issue is a “storm in a teacup” and is adamant that Subritzky has done nothing wrong.
“Glen’s just a very close confidant to the Northland team,” said Strachan. “He’s simply brought these guys out to Northland, provided them with accommodation and employment, and done nothing but helped them.”
“To be an official agent or manager you’ve got to adhere to IRB criteria. He doesn’t have control over them. All he does is look after them, and he doesn’t charge them a cent.”
Strachan sent an email to Bosco and McCallion reiterating why Caucaunibuca, Maimuri and Fero Lasagavibau were unable to attend the initial trials in Fiji.
“Rupeni’s injured and unavailable, Vula can’t go because of personal reasons and Fero was keen to play in the trials, but the $951 to fly to Fiji and back is difficult for a guy with a young family,” said Strachan.
McCallion initially asked Blues doctor Graham Patterson to conduct a medical test on Caucaunibuca after the Northland team doctor had ruled him unfit.
“Graham is a straightforward guy whom I have known for a long time and he will tell me very quickly whether there is an injury as is being claimed,” said McCallion at the time. However, Strachan cancelled the test with Patterson, instead setting up a meeting for Caucaunibuca with All Blacks doctor John Mayhew last Wednesday.
“Graham has previously been associated with Mac (McCallion) and there could have been a conflict of interests,” said Strachan.
Mayhew confirmed that Caucaunibuca, who played Northland’s last two NPC games with a shoulder injury, was unfit to play rugby.
Northland CEO Peter Fergusson said it was disappointing to see Subritzky’s name brought into question.
“Glen’s a good guy. He’s a father figure to the Fijian players,” said Fergusson.
“He’s a guy that has an affinity with the Fijians. They trust him and he does everything for the love of the guys and the love of the game. He doesn’t get paid for anything. In fact, I would say that it’s actually cost him an arm and a leg over the years!”
Subritzky has had a number of Fijian players living in his house over the years and has also provided them with employment opportunities.
He’s currently helping Maimuri’s father build a house in Fiji and is planning to head back with a work crew early next year to get construction underway on a house for Caucaunibuca’s father.
Fergusson said it wasn’t a surprise to see the Fijians crying foul, given the associated problems the Pacific Island nations encounter when trying to muster test squads each year.
“Obviously they’ve (FRU) been frustrated by that and I suspect they think someone’s trying to pull the wool over their eyes. No one in New Zealand has the right to stop these guys representing their countries and I don’t think you’ll find anyone that wants to.”
McCallion named his 31-strong touring squad to play Wales, Ireland and Scotland earlier this week. Included are NPC first division players Lasagavibau, Otago utility back Seru Rabeni, the Southland duo of Seremaia Bai and Norman Ligairi and Waikato hooker Greg Smith, while East Coast lock Kele Leawere has also been called up.
It was a clearly frustrated McCallion who took a swipe at New Zealand rugby before naming his squad.
“There’s a lot of frustration here with the Super 12 players in New Zealand which really surprises me,” McCallion told Teivovo editor Jeremy Duxbury.
The former Counties Manukau coach and Blues assistant coach was dealt another blow before the final trial when Otago and Highlanders wing Aisea Tuilevu joined Canterbury’s Marika Vunibaka and Caucaunibuca on the unavailable list. The Fijians believe Tuilevu wanted to play for Fiji on the upcoming tour, but was threatened with loss of his Super 12 contract.
“I thought New Zealand would be behind us and encourage those Fijian players to make themselves available. But it’s not the case.
“We have had a bit of a merry-go-round with Vula Maimuri and Caucau, so they will be out of the UK tour and possibly out of the World Cup. I made it clear that if they want play in the World Cup, they have to be available for this UK tour. It’s a case of the big man pulling one over the little fellows.”