Super Rugby newcomers the Fijian Drua will be based in Australia next year due to difficulties arranging travel to the Pacific islands during the coronavirus pandemic, team officials said on Friday.
The Drua is one of two new sides introduced to the revamped Super Rugby Pacific competition for next season, along with Moana Pasifika, which will be based in New Zealand.
It was originally slated to play home games in Suva but Fiji Rugby chairman Conway Beg said a "difficult but necessary" decision was made to switch to Australia next year.
"We need to give our team every opportunity for success and the uncertainty around restriction-free travel between Fiji, Australia and New Zealand as early as February 2022 due to Covid-19 was just too great a risk," he said.
Beg said players and coaching staff were making a huge sacrifice being away from home for the entire season, which runs from February to June.
"But everyone realises the massive opportunity Super Rugby Pacific presents for our players and for the future of our 15s programme," he added.
Beg said the team still hoped to move to Suva for the 2023 season.
The competition features five from Australia, five from New Zealand plus the two Pacific island sides.
Their inclusion is designed to allow the Pacific nations of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa to retain top talent instead of constantly seeing players head overseas in search of professional opportunities.
"The rugby world has long known what our players are capable of... we now get the opportunity to do this week in, week out in Super Rugby Pacific," Fiji Rugby chief executive John O'Connor said.