SPORTS

Viliame Mata crowned the Guinness Pro 14 Play­ers’ Player

Vereniki Goneva and Leone Nakarawa won last season and Mata in 2019, this is good news for Fiji Rugby -John McKee
07 May 2019 14:58
Viliame Mata crowned the Guinness Pro 14 Play­ers’ Player
Viliame Mata with the Guinness Pro 14 Players’ Player of the 2018-19 Season award in Dublin, Ireland on May 6, 2019.

Viliame Mata was crowned the Guinness Pro 14 Play­ers’ Player of the 2018-19 Season in Dublin, Ireland yester­day.

And Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee is the hap­piest man as Fijians continue to stamp their mark in Europe with Newcastle Falcons’ Vereniki Gon­eva and Racing 92 Leone Nakarawa winning the Aviva Premiership Rugby and European Rugby top gong respectively last season.

“l’m happy for Mata and all Fijians making their mark in Europe,”McKee said.

“Goneva and Nakarawa last sea­son and Mata in 2019, this is good news for Fiji Rugby.”

Mata’s Scottish club have made huge strides this season under head coach Richard Cockerill which saw them reach the last eight of the Champions Cup

The 27-year-old Fijian has become a firm fans’ favourite at Edinburgh with his all-action style type of rugby.

The highlight of his excellent sea­son was undeniably the outrageous offload for James Johnstone’s try in a historic European win at Tou­lon.

The man known as Bill, who won an Olympic 7s rugby gold for Fiji at Rio 2016, signed a contract exten­sion until 2021 with Edinburgh in February.

Cockerill had joked that he would be willing ‘to sell one of my chil­dren’s kidneys.’ to keep him at the club.

FIGHTING FIT

McKee is happy with how our Fly­ing Fijians continue to strut their stuff in style in Europe.

“Our players are not only making a mark but playing an influential role for their teams,”McKee said.

“They are all fighting fit with nothing serious to report.

“Mata has been a sensation since joining Edinburgh and I’m happy with Semi Kunatani stamping his mark at The Stoop for Harlequins.”

Kunatani made a big impact com­ing off the bench last Saturday against Leicester Tigers scoring the match-winner. Ending up 5th in the Premiership Rugby standings, they missed out on the playoff spot edged by Api Ratuniyarwa and Taqele Naiyaravoro Northampton Saints.

“Kunatani gaining some valuable game time while Api and Taqele impress and among the fans fa­vourites at Franklin Gardens.”

McKee said apart from lock­ing regulars Ratuniyarawa, Na­karawa, and Tevita Cavubati, the Flying Fijians have depth in the position,

“The London Irish Exiles are us­ing Albert Tuisue as No, 6 (blind­side flanker) but he is one of my lock forwards.

“I’m also monitoring Sikeli Na­bou (Biarritz) and Tevita Ratuva (Bordeaux-Begles).

McKee is also impressed with Le­vani Botia (La Rochelle and Peni Ravai (Bordeaux –Begles) perfor­mance after their injury layowff.

McKee said they are finalizing lo­gistics for the RWC in Japam.

“We are almost there, few details to finalise.”

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