15s For 7s Olympian
Viliame Sevaka Mata departed yesterday to join his Scotland-based Pro D12 rugby side Edinburg Reivers.
And another former Rio Olympics rugby sevens gold medal winner Savenaca Rawaca is expected to depart next week to join Aviva Premiership defending champions Saracens.
Mata, the 24-year-old Nauluvatu, Nakelo, Tailevu native, departed with wife Wati and their two-year old child.
Mata has been awaiting visa clearance for his family to travel since last month.
Mata always looked forward to securing an overseas 15s contract since he made his debut at the 2014 Wellington Sevens.
“My goal was to win the gold medal for Fiji at the Rio Olympics and we got it. Now my goal is to perform well for my new team in Edinburgh
“I am excited about signing for Edinburgh Rugby, and looking forward to playing for the club.
“I am also excited about arriving in the city and meeting my new team mates.”
Outgoing Vodafone Fijian 7s coach Ben Ryan, who helped in securing the deal, spoke highly of Mata.
Ryan describes 6ft 7in Mata as a versatile blend of raw athleticism, and streetwise game-play.
“He doesn’t make mistakes, he gets everything right,” he said. “His line-break statistics and error rate are probably the best in the squad.
“His hands and his offloading are very, very good. What draws him away from others in the offloading, is that unlike some of our players that might throw offloads that won’t always go to hand, Bill’s offloads are always very measured.
“He’ll always get past the man, always ride the tackle and be able to give an offload very well. I don’t think he gave a penalty away in Rio, and I don’t think he gave the ball away either.”
Mata is a former rugby league player who was spotted by Ryan while playing for Davetalevu at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.
Meanwhile, Rawaca is still awaiting travel documents before he flies out next week.
He is expected to return from Navatu, Bua, today.
Taliga denies Nike deal report
Fijian 7s Olympian Kitione Taliga has denied signing a lifetime deal with international sports brand Nike. The online report is suspected to be a hoax.
An ESPN sports reporter Darren Rovellch had was quoted in the purported online report as saying Taliga will be earning as much as $30 million annually plus his own signature shoe line.
But the 23-year-old Fiji Corrections Service officer said the article was false and he did not sign any such deal.
“No I did not sign any deal with Nike, I don’t know where this article came from because it is not true,” Taliga said yesterday.
The supposed hoax article raised some attention on popular social media site Facebook where people are posting on Taliga’s timeline congratulating him and linking the article.
Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor said this was the first time he had heard of such an article.
“I have no idea about what has been stated in that article, have not heard anything about it.”
Edited by Osea Bola