The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua, Super Rugby Pacific’s newest franchise, today announced several key appointments to its ‘off-field’ management team ahead of the 2022 season, following the establishment of the ‘on-field’ playing group and coaching staff.
CEO Brian Thorburn announced the appointment of former award-wining journalist and communications professional Shane Hussein as the Drua’s Head of Commercial & Marketing. Hussein, originally from Cuvu, Nadroga, brings 17 years of experience in communications, media, loyalty marketing, revenue generation, as well as diplomacy and public affairs to the role. He holds degrees in Journalism and Management & Public Administration (from the University of the South Pacific), Marketing (from the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK), and postgraduate qualifications in Journalism and International Affairs. Hussein is currently Senior Manager Corporate Communications at National Airline, Fiji Airways.
Thorburn said: “Shane is a seasoned communications professional, having worked extensively in the Fiji media scene and, for the last ten years, at Fiji Airways. I was thrilled when he applied for the advertised role, and he was hands down the best candidate amongst a field of domestic and international applicants. Shane’s knowledge of Fiji along with his marketing and journalism skills will see us really kick off the Fijian Drua season in a high profile and impactful way. He not only brings a genuine and long-held passion for the Drua and rugby, but will also give us a real edge in keeping our fans, sponsors and stakeholders engaged as we lift-off for our first season. We’re lucky to have secured his services.”
Thorburn added: “Shane will start with the Drua in early January and has agreed to base himself at Lake Ainsworth with the team for the first six months, so he can bring the story of the Drua’s Super Rugby journey to fans in Fiji and around the world. As Head of Commercial, he will lead the launching of a suite of membership products for our fans, manage our sponsorships and ensure fulfilment, and oversee our marketing, communications and social media activities.”
Hussein was thrilled to join the Fijian Drua from 1st January 2022. “It’s an honour to join the vuvale and the historic journey of our Swire Shipping Fijian Drua”, he stated. “We’re all relishing the challenge at hand both on and off the field. I look forward to keeping the Drua connected with all fans, sponsors and stakeholders as the team goes head to head with some of the best rugby clubs in the world.”
Thorburn also confirmed other recent appointments of two Australian based consultants, Sally Christiansen and Jason Hill.
Christiansen, who has been appointed as a Commercial and Marketing advisor, is responsible for brand development, the Drua website, and marketing direction for the team. Ms. Christiansen has an extensive career in sports marketing and licensing, having worked at International Management Group, the ARU and with the National Rugby League.
“Sally has already driven the successful development of our world-class brand, apparel designs and logo, and has directed our publicity and marketing requirements to date. The first stage of our website, drua.rugby, is also now ready, whereby fans can register their details as a first step to ensuring they stay up to date with all Drua news. Sally has many other key projects under development and will play a key role in the Drua’s off-field success in our inaugural season .”
Jason Hill joins the Fijian Drua as Venues and Events Consultant.
Mr. Thorburn in announcing the appointment said, “Jason has experience with the St. George Illawarra Dragons NRL team, the NSW Waratahs, and served for almost 20 years as Commercial Director of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust. He is ideally placed to lead the efforts in securing various venues for Drua home matches, as well as coordinating much of the infrastructure and supporting arrangements behind our events.”
Thorburn added “With much of our inaugural season to be played in Australia, it was important that we engaged Australian experts for 2021 & 2022, but as we move to a majority of our games being played in Fiji in 2023, we intend to develop local understudies, for whom knowledge and skill transfer can take place in these specialised areas.”
On the sponsorship front, Mr. Thorburn said that the Drua is working closely with the FRU, in particular with the FRU's Sponsorship Sales & Broadcast Manager, Avnil Pratap.
He said “We have already made several sponsor announcements, including Swire Shipping, New Balance, PacificAus Sports and Rooster, and we have three further sponsors almost ready to announce.”
“However, we still need further sponsorship support, and Avnil Pratap is ideally suited to field enquiries and provide opportunities for more companies to join our sponsor vuvale. Those opportunities include a jersey sleeve and shorts sponsor, on-field grass signage, and various other attractive sponsorship real estate. Avnil is well known in the market, and very skilled and knowledgeable in the sponsorship space.”
The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua has also signed a contract with Oceania Rugby to provide financial and governance support to the Drua for the period until July 2022.
“As a professional sports organisation, it’s necessary to have an experienced back- office accounting and finance function. For the period when the Drua are based in Australia, it made sense to use Oceania Rugby through Mark Schmidt and Nick Viet who are already making great progress with budgeting and reporting functions, as well as coordinating insurance and banking requirements,” Thorburn said.