Ex Spain mentor answers Serbia’s coaching call

01 Oct 21, 7:00AM 0 Comments

Written by Stuart McLennan

Former Spain Rugby League Head Coach Darren (Daz) Fisher flew into Belgrade on Thursday morning to prepare the Serbian national team for the Euro B Championship which kicks off on Sunday 3 October in Paracin City, Serbia.

The Serbian role became vacant when previous coach Stuart Wilkinson was forced to relinquish the position due to work commitments,

Fisher, from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, has experience in various coaching roles including with Wakefield Trinity and Castleford Tigers. He told Everything Rugby League the appointment was recent following discussions with Serbian officials, however Covid restrictions had previously prevented any international involvement.

“I have known some of these players for a number of years in past meetings we have had. I have always remained in close contact with Serbia officials and had good relations with the Board, so now I’m looking forward to working with the squad and delivering what I can in my coaching to get the best from the players in what will be a quick turnaround.”

Serbian RLF General Secretary, Vladan Kikanovic believes Fisher is the right coach to bring out the best in the Serbian players.

“We spotted Darren a long time ago as a devoted coach, great enthusiast and rugby league lover. We think Darren can do well with Serbia, he showed that with some great results for Spain in the past.”

Fisher coached the Spanish team for six years, taking the team to the final qualifying stages of the 2021 World Cup before they succumbed to the experience of Italy and Ireland.

In 2018 Spain under Fisher defeated Russia 32-24 and lost narrowly to Serbia 24-20.

Fisher believes the Serbian national team, who many international fans believe has the potential to be a powerhouse in Europe, has room for improvement and can perform better on the international stage.

“Absolutely yes, it’s one thing I have to put right if I want to do the best I can for Serbia. The players will soon see my philosophy on how to manage these games and each one is a pivotal point to the next,” Fisher who is currently Director of Rugby at Eastmoor Dragons said.

All three teams in the Euro B Championship, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine are known for their physical approach to the game and Fisher is expecting both contests (against Russia and Ukraine) to be tough.

“They are all very physically strong, especially their middles. I do expect some flare in the pack from both sides. After having a few games against Russia while I was at Spain, I know the physicality of the squad and it’s going to be interesting because there are a lot of debutants. Ukraine have been having a good domestic comp and that will show how competitive they have become in the games.”

Fisher, who still keeps in touch with a number of the Spanish players he coached, said there will be similarities between Spain and Serbia when it comes to strategies.

“The experience I gained on how international rugby is very different from domestic teams where you get a weekly training structure. This is very much an approach to how we manage ourselves and how the players react as they all come from different clubs. We don’t get the luxury of having these players all the time so the experience of having positive camps and training when we are together are key in how we deliver on the field.

“The one thing that’s very different here in Serbia is that the foundations are very strong and they have a very competitive domestic competition. That’s huge compared to how I managed Spain.”

Serbia’s first match will be against Russia, coached by former Wests Tigers trialist Roman Ovchinnikov on Sunday 3 October followed by Ukraine on Saturday 9 October.

“I expect us to be competitive and we need to be committed to get what we can out of these games. I’d hope to get both wins but these are cup final fixtures everything has to be delivered come game day.”


Stefan Simovic (RLC Dorcol Tigers), Aleksandar Pavlovic, Djordje Krnjeta, Dragan Jankovic, Dzavid Jasari, Enis Bibic, Nemanja Manojlovic, Stevan Stevanovic, Vladimir Milutinovic (RLC Partizan 1953), Lazar Zivkovic, Mihajlo Jovic, Stefan Arsic (RLC Radnicki Nis), Aleksandar Djordjevic, Marko Jankovic, Milos Calic, Milos Zogovic, Miodrag Tomic, Nikola Djuric Rajko Trifunovic, Stefan Nedeljkovic, Vojislav Dedic (RLC Red Star)


Serbia v Russia

Sunday 3rd October
Paracin City Stadium (2pm CET)

Russia v Ukraine

Wednesday 6th October
FC Heroj Polet Stadium (1pm CET)

Serbia v Ukraine

Saturday 9th October
FC Heroj Polet Stadium (2pm CET)

*All matches will be streamed live on the European Rugby League Facebook page.

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