SPORTS

Mata Out, Hunt On For No.8

This is because Viliame Mata will undergo surgery today after damaging ankle ligaments during the European Challenge Cup quarter-final last week.
01 Oct 2020 12:41
Mata Out, Hunt On For No.8
Viliame Mata.

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter will have to look for a new No.8 for the Autumn Nations Cup next month.

This is because Viliame Mata will undergo surgery today after damaging ankle ligaments during the European Challenge Cup quarter-final last week.

The Nauluvatu, Nakelo, Tailevu native could be out for six to eight weeks and Cotter might have to look outside Europe for players to beef up his squad.

While the other contenders could be Nemani Nagusa (Newcastle Falcons) and Peceli Yato (Clermont), Cotter could eye potential candidates for the future in Australia and New Zealand.

And the inclusion of local players playing in the Skipper Cup Premiership is a possibility.

Mata, 28, will now be missing as Richard Cockerill’s team kick off the PRO 14 season against Ospreys at Murrayfield on Saturday. And Mata is also likely to be absent when the Flying Fijians visit Edinburgh on November 28 for the test against Scotland.

Cockerill told Rugby Pass: “Bill Mata will have surgery on his ankle on Thursday to repair a ligament.

“He will probably be six to eight weeks with that, meaning he will miss the first two rounds of the PRO14 with us then the international period with Fiji. Once he has surgery we’ll know more. It may be shorter, it may be longer but roughly it will be six to eight weeks,” he said.

“It’s tough. He has been playing very well. We know Bill is pivotal to ourselves so it’s disappointing. Listen, we’ve got good cover with Nick Haining and Magnus Bradbury are good number eights so we’re not short in the back row, but certainly for Edinburgh and Fiji that will be a blow.”

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