Alana Thomas takes up 'exciting' new coaching role for Rugby World Cup

Alana Thomas. Photo: ARU

Alana Thomas. Photo: ARU

During her playing days, Glen Innes native Alana Thomas lined up for Australia in a Rugby World Cup.

She'll return to the world stage once again for the 2021 World Cup but in a much different role, and for a different country.

Thomas will join the Fiji national women's team's, coaching staff for the country's first attempt at a World Cup.

The current Melbourne Rebels Super W coach will serve under Fijiana head coach Senirusi Seruvakula as part of the Rugby World Cup's internship program.

The program was funded by the International Olympic Committee after they identified a lack of female representation in coaching roles at a high-performance level.

WORLD STAGE: Former Wallaroo, Glen's Alana Thomas, will front up to another Rugby World Cup but this time it will be in a different capacity for a different country. Photo: RA.

WORLD STAGE: Former Wallaroo, Glen's Alana Thomas, will front up to another Rugby World Cup but this time it will be in a different capacity for a different country. Photo: RA.

Each nation in the Rugby World Cup will take part in the program.

Rugby Australia are offering an internship but in a different capacity to the role available for Fiji.

Thomas said she looked at the role in the Australian team but felt she would get more out of working as part of the Fijiana staff.

"I applied for the Australian one but it wasn't a hands-on coaching role for the World Cup, it was more of an analyst role," she said.

Rugby Australia suggested she wouldn't benefit as much from it and pushed for her to be appointed the role in the Fijian team.

Not only will Thomas be taking up the internship, she will also serve as an assistant coach and is responsible for the team's defence.

The 2021 World Cup will also be the first time Fiji has fielded a women's team and Thomas believes it will be a great opportunity to be part of the beginnings of a national team.

"Being a part of a national program and a program that is starting from the ground up, I can bring some knowledge from setting up Super W to that but also the knowledge I can take away from Seni and how he does things," she said.

"I think it is going be a really good two way street for both my development and their development as well."

Thomas said she's also excited to learn about Fijian culture and be part of a nation who just love rugby.

"I have been over there for a holiday when the men's sevens were playing and the whole country stops," she said.

"We were in the airport, we were flying out and the sevens were on and literally everyone just came out of their shops to watch the TV. It the women's first World Cup as well so it is exciting from that perspective.

"There are a lot of people wanting to see the women do well so it is going to be great in that regard and they are going to have a lot of people watching."

The Fijiana squad is yet to be selected but they will begin training early next year for the tournament in New Zealand in September and October.

"In the meantime, Melbourne-based Thomas has plans to visit Glen Innes around Christmas time this year, pending COVID-19 restrictions.