Ben Ryan: Fiji star Semi Radradra would make any starting XV on the planet

Sad to see such an outstanding player heading home from the Rugby World Cup

epa07907459 Semi Radradra of Fiji in action during the Rugby World Cup match between Wales and Fiji in Oita, Japan, 09 October 2019.  EPA/HIROSHI YAMAMURA EDITORIAL USE ONLY/ NO COMMERCIAL SALES / NOT USED IN ASSOCATION WITH ANY COMMERCIAL ENTITY
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I first came across Semi Radradra when I was coaching England Sevens and we beat Fiji in a semi-final in 2013.

Directly after that tournament rugby league saw him, and he went and joined Parramatta Eels in the NRL.

He only came back from league to union after I had left Fiji, so I never had the chance to coach him – only against him.

This Fijian team has players like Bill Mata, Leone Nakarawa and Josua Tuisova, each of whom would have a good argument for being good enough to get in the 23 of any other team in the world.

But Radradra would make everybody’s starting XV. The only question marks against him are his positional sense defensively, which is why he has played wing in this tournament rather than outside centre, as well as his kicking out of hand.

In terms of everything else, he is outstanding. He could easily slip into the All Blacks’ back three, or that of England, South Africa or Ireland.

It is sad to see him heading home prematurely from this tournament, along with a Fiji side who did themselves proud against Wales in their last match.

Wales are among the favourites to win the World Cup, and for large parts of the game, Fiji were right in it.

What I found pleasing was the fact that, although individuals like Radradra and Tuisova stood out, there were also smart moves off the lineout, they did well in the scrum, and the defence was pretty good.

They did not just play like a Pacific Island team who are loose and unstructured. That bodes well for the next World Cup – although it is a long way off.

They will qualify automatically for 2023 for coming third in the group, and that did not happen last time. I know it is a small step, but it is still an important one.