SPORTS

Mata Pleads To Fans To Turn Up And Show Your Support This Saturday

The Flying Fijians have struggled to attract fans during matches despite having big-name players in the squad.
09 Jul 2019 12:40
Mata Pleads To Fans To Turn Up And Show Your Support This Saturday
Scene of the bus accident at Lakena, Nausori

Scotland-based Fiji Airways Flying Fijians backrow forward Viliame Mata believes the support of fans will be crucial to the team’s preparations and success at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Mata, who plays for Edinburgh and was crowned the Guinness Pro 14 Player’s Player award for the 2018-2019 season, spoke to the Fiji Sun as the Flying Fijians prepared for this Saturday’s clash with the Maori All Blacks at Suva’s ANZ Stadium.

Mata pleaded with fans to come out and support the team this Saturday.

“It will be a massive boost for us,” he said.

“We just want all the fans to come and support us in any way and that will be very helpful.”

The Flying Fijians have struggled to attract fans during matches despite having big-name players in the squad, some of whom are among the best in the world.

With the attendance at the Chiefs vs Crusaders Super Rugby match in June and last week’s Nadi vs Nadroga Farebrother Trophy clash, Mata hopes an equally good crowd will turn up for the Flying Fijians.

Meanwhile, the team resumed training yesterday at Albert Park in Suva.

Head coach John McKee is expected to name the match 23 on Thursday, with the captain’s run scheduled for 9am on Friday at Albert Park.

Fiji will attempt to beat the Maori for the first time in 62 years; a win Mata believes will give them the perfect foundation to build momentum for the RWC.

“We’re going to pick up where we left off in the November tour when we beat France. We’re ready for a fight,” he said.

“Maori is first up and it is going to be a tough challenge. A win will put us in the right direction heading to the World Cup.”

Mata also stressed the importance of playing as a cohesive unit against an attacking Maori team, sprinkled with Mitre 10, Super Rugby and fringe All Blacks players, and putting up a strong defensive performance.

His teammate, loose-head prop Campese Ma’afu, shared similar thoughts, adding that a fast start would be key to beating the Kiwis.

Ma’afu is a frontrunner to start on Saturday but will face stiff competition from youngster Luke Tagi, Kalivati Tawake and Peni Ravai.

The Leicester Tigers forward has praised the depth in the squad as a testament to the talent in Fiji, being particularly impressed with the local players.

“There’s a lot of talent in the team especially the local boys, who, without the experience of playing overseas like the rest of us, are coping well and on the same page with the team,” he said.

“We also have tough, healthy competition in all positions and I think that’s really good for the team.”

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedbacksheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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