The Government will refuse a visa for Fiji's unelected leader and military commander, Frank Bainimarama, during the Rugby World Cup, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has made clear.

He said there had been no pressure put on New Zealand by the International Rugby Board on the issue of Fiji.

A report in yesterday's Sunday Star-Times suggesting Commodore Bainimarama could not be excluded from New Zealand if he becomes president of the Fiji Rugby Union was wrong, he said.

"New Zealand is a sovereign nation. The Government determines who is able to enter this country," Mr McCully said.

IRB chief executive Mike Miller will hold discussions in Fiji today about the resignation of the board there and he will have talks with Mr McCully on Wednesday in New Zealand.

Commodore Bainimarama is angling to become president and his brother-in-law and a senior naval officer Francis Kean the new chairman.

Mr Kean served a prison term for manslaughter resulting from a fight at the wedding of Commodore Bainimarama's daughter in 2007.

The Star-Times said New Zealand would be forced to host the pair at taxpayer expense at the Rugby World Cup, which Mr McCully said was not true.

"There has been no pressure from the IRB for New Zealand to host any representatives from Fiji.

"There has been a dialogue about the fact that there are visa issues that we will have to confront but the IRB have shown a very realistic approach to the difficulties that Fiji presents and we have had a good working relationship with them on that question."

Mr McCully said members of the Fiji military regime were at present covered by sanctions and any request for a visitor's visa would be denied.

Anyone denied a visa could apply for an exemption from the sanctions and that decision would be made by the Immigration Minister on advice from the Foreign Minister.

"Under current circumstances, any such request will be denied," he said.

Mr McCully said he had made that position clear to the International Rugby Board.

But he has hinted that the sanctions could be relaxed if enough progress were made on a return to democracy between now and September, when the tournament begins, but the chances of that happening are remote.

Asked about why he said in a statement that the RWC offered an incentive for progress on Fiji, Mr McCully said: "My role is to be an optimist here.

"Rugby World Cup is very important to people in Fiji as it is to many of the people around the Pacific.

"I think we should have as much discussion as we can to try and find a way through these challenges before we have to exclude people."

He was keen to explore any avenue to avoid that.