SECOND JOB: Rick StoneKNIGHTS assistant Rick Stone will intertwine international commitments with his domestic duties after finally being confirmed as Fiji’s coach for the next rugby league World Cup.
Nanjing Night Net

The Newcastle Herald reported on October 26 that Stone would coach Fiji from next year up to and including the 2013 World Cup in England, Wales, Ireland and France.

That was in the week leading up to Fiji’s two-Test tour of Papua New Guinea, during which Stone was technical adviser to Jo Rabele.

Stone has known since then that he would succeed Rabele, who took the Bati to the 2008 World Cup semi-finals in Australia, but the official appointment only came last Saturday at a Fiji National Rugby League board meeting.

Rabele will be an assistant to Stone, who was chosen from a short list that also included former Kiwi Test centre Richie Blackmore and English-based Australian club coach Dave Woods.

FNRL chairman Peni Musunamasi described Stone, who has coached the Knights to two finals series in the past three seasons and will be Wayne Bennett’s assistant for the next four years, as ‘‘the best experienced person for the job”.

“Jo has been with the FNRL through thick and thin. He has proven himself in 2008, and we have a lot of respect for him,” Musunamasi told the Fijilive website.

“It wasn’t an easy decision because of Jo’s contribution to FNRL but we are thinking of what is good for Fiji Bati, and we feel Rick has the experience to take us further.

“We look forward to seeing Rick and Jo work together. Personally I think they make a strong team and FNRL is lucky to have both their services.”

Stone said he took on the Fijian job with the blessing of Bennett, Knights chief executive Matt Gidley and Hunter Sports Group chief executive Troy Palmer.

‘‘It won’t in any way hinder anything I’m doing in a Knights capacity,’’ Stone said.

Stone hoped to build a competitive team around a nucleus of senior players including Australian internationals Petero Civoniceva and Lote Tuqiri, Fiji skipper Wes Naiqama and his brother and Knights teammate Kevin, and brothers Ashton, Tariq and Korbin Sims.