Aiming For A Perfect 10

Normally on centre-stage for the Ospreys, Josh Matavesi is planning to be Fiji’s perfect 10 on Sunday. And the former Worcester Warrior hopes playing alongside Dan Biggar at the Liberty
14 Nov 2014 06:57
Aiming For A Perfect 10
Josh Matavesi

Normally on centre-stage for the Ospreys, Josh Matavesi is planning to be Fiji’s perfect 10 on Sunday.

And the former Worcester Warrior hopes playing alongside Dan Biggar at the Liberty Stadium can help the South Sea Islanders sink Welsh hopes of a first test win this autumn after Warren Gatland’s men suffered more Wallaby heartache in Cardiff last weekend.

Matavesi is up for the fight against Wales at the Millennium Stadium despite finding himself in the unfamilair surroundings of the outside-half slot.

It’s only the second time the 24-year-old has donned the No,10 jersey at test level and with the added responsibility of navigating the Islanders for the second of their autumn tour games, also comes a knowledge of the inner-workings of his opponents through his Ospreys connections even though regional team-mate Biggar won’t be filling the outside-half shirt for Wales because of injury.

“I have been joking around with Bigs (Biggar) since September I will be playing 10 for Fiji and I don’t think he believed me,” said Matavesi.

“I have learned a lot from the way he operates but I have also played 10 before.

“I can use what I have learned from the Ospreys at 12 where I’m quite physical.

“If the ball comes scrappy I’m not afraid to take it up the guts against Rhys Priestland.

“It will be a little bit different than at the Ospreys where there is perhaps more structure.

“The Fijian boys are used to Sevens and our system is a little bit crazy at times.

“But it’s what Fiji want, so I am happy. I just have to give it to the boys outside me and let them do their magic.”

Matavesi was referring to the giant centre partnership of Leicester star Vereniki Goneva and Crusaders powerhouse Nemani Nadolo who have terrorised defences in the Aviva Premiership and Super 15 competitions.

“We have one of the heaviest backlines in world rugby currently with all the guys over 100kg apart from our scrum-half,” he added.

“Nadolo and Goneva have been the best players for their club and provincial teams.

“When Nadolo is missing for the Crusaders you know about it. He weighs 130kg, is heavier than Jamie Roberts, and is also quick.

“Goneva has all sorts of games where he can run over you or around you. He weighs in about 112kg so that is about 350kg just in the midfield!”

With Biggar missing with his groin problem picked up in Saturday’s defeat to Australia, Scarlets star Rhys Priestland, who was booed by a small section of the Millennium Stadium crowd when entering the fray against the Wallabies, retains the No.10 jersey for Saturday.

“I’m a little bit disappointed in some of the fans, not all of them,” he said.

“It’s just that two per cent of fans that did it, the rest are amazing, [and] I’m sure Rhys is big enough to come back from that.

“He’s got a tough game on Saturday. He knows what the Fijians are going to bring to him with the backline that we’ve got.”

Matavesi is used to Welsh crowds having linked up with the Ospreys this summer.

Now this weekend he will be in direct action against some of his regional colleagues.

“It’s crazy I’m playing against guys who I train with every day,” he said.

“I know the Welsh way a bit and am excited to be playing against some of my team-mates.

“Some of these guys are my best friends I would do anything for when I put on that Ospreys jersey.

“So it’s different to be changed around now and playing against them.

“I’m there for the win and so are they and we are both representing our country.

“While we will come to blows in the game, we will have a beer afterwards. Or a Lucozade in their case!”

His most notable Ospreys opponent will be openside flanker Justin Tipuric, the man targeted with keeping Matavesi quiet.

“You have to respect Tips because he is a world-class flanker,” said Matavesi.

“I know what he does and how he operates in an Ospreys jersey.

“He is probably one of the best footballers I have played with or against and could easily take my Ospreys position.

“I will have to keep an eye out for him because he will be gunning for me off the scrum and the lineouts.

“I have to stay focused because I have a team to run.”

Matavesi is a typical South Sea Islander who loves the physicality previously regaling stories where sidestepping was banned in one-on-one confrontations with his brother.

But the Ospreys star insists Fiji can’t be ill-disciplined on Saturday.

“I’ve been in games where we have been 12-0 down because of stupid ill-discipline,” he recalled.

“Although we like that physicality we have to bring it within the laws of the game.

“The last thing we want is to be penalised or yellow-carded. We don’t want 14 men on the pitch with Wales running wild because that will cost us the game.

“We want to hit hard and pride ourselves on smashing people back and running over defenders.

“But we have to do that with a level of control and we can’t let the occasion get to us.”

Matavesi was born in Cornwall after his father settled there following a 1987 rugby tour and went on to play for Mounts Bay, Exeter and Racing Metro.

After failing to make the grade with England Under-20s, Matavesi turned his attention to Fiji and made the first of six test appearances as a teenager when they lost to Scotland at Murrayfield in 2009.

He played full-back that day and wore the same shirt when Fiji drew 16-16 with Wales in Cardiff in 2010.

After a period in the international wilderness, Matavesi finds himself back on the test scene this Saturday after missing the 40-15 defeat to France last weekend through injury.

“My Dad is blown away I have chosen Fiji and the shirt means so much to me,” said Matavesi.

“In 2009 I missed out on England Under-20 selection and that seemed to rule me out of the equation.

“Fiji gave me a call and I played for them that year.

“In 2010 was the last time I was in Cardiff where we got the draw so we have some full circle again.

“I don’t remember too much from that game except I was only 19 and in awe of some of the Welsh boys.”

Matavesi has witnessed the difference between the preparations of the Welsh squad and the limited time Fiji have together especially ahead of next year’s World Cup.

“It’s all right for the Welsh boys because they have the rest of the autumn and the Six Nations to prepare,” he added.

“We just have November and June so we have limited preparation.

“People don’t understand how much of a struggle it is to get a side together.

“Wales don’t get the visa issues or people coming in on a Tuesday or Wednesday before the test.

“Imagine George North turning up three days before facing the All Blacks.

“It would be unheard of so these are the things we have to get on with.

“When we get together we have to make sure we have to be efficient.

“But we don’t lack experience now with so many more people playing overseas.

“This is only going to improve things.

“There is only one guy who has come from Fiji, so we are all professional and know what to do.

“The coach John McKee has come in and the support staff he has brought in means things are improving.

“So Fiji is on the rise.

And Matavesi described what another Fijian victory over Wales would mean to his nation.

“It’s all about pride and representing our country,” he added.

“These guys are representing their villages of maybe only a couple of hundred people.

“There is only one television in some of the villages.

“So you have the whole village trying to cram into watch the game.

“These guys are heroes in Fiji. It’s quite special.”



Five square Da Bang Sale

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