SPORTS

Success in Japan bigger than Olympics: Mata

Mata has featured prominently in John McKee’s squad during the RWC build-up games and will likely have an important role in Japan.
23 Aug 2019 14:22
Success in Japan bigger than Olympics: Mata
From left: Fiji Airways Flying Fijians prop Eroni Mawi, captain and flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu, winger Josua Tuisova, prop Lee Roy Atalifo and centre Jale Vatubua training at Suva’s ANZ Stadium on August 22, 2019. Photo: Photo: Ronald Kumar

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians flanker Viliame Mata has suggested that success at the Japan Rugby World Cup will be bigger than the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medal win.

Mata, who trained with the team at Suva’s ANZ Stadium yesterday, is one of the four Olympians in the side, alongside Leone Nakarawa, Josua Tuisova and Semi Kunatani.

He has featured prominently in John McKee’s squad during the World Cup build-up games and will likely have an important role in Japan.

“Getting selected in the squad is a great, emotional feeling,” Mata said.

“Making history at the World Cup will be bigger than anything I have ever achieved in my rugby career.”

Mata’s teammate, loose-head prop Peni Ravai, has also talked up the team’s chances 28 days out from the showcase event.

Ravai Working Hard

Ravai is one of the only props in the world to have played rugby 7s at an international level.

However, his place in the team is not certain yet.

Head coach John McKee has named five props in a 32-member extended squad, with one still to be omitted.

“(Knowing one prop will be dropped) does put some pressure on us because there is a lot of competition in the team,” Ravai said.

“But the competition makes everyone work hard and pushes us to another level and I think it’s going to be a hard decision for the coach because all the props are trying their best and very fit at the moment.”

Big Challenge: Dolokoto

Another player feeling the pressure that comes with the intensity of top-level rugby is young hooker Mesulame Dolokoto.

Dolokoto, a product of last year’s successful Fiji Airways Fijian Drua outfit, at 24, is one of the youngest players in the side.

Naturally, he is also feeling the pressure.

“It’s exciting to be in the squad for the world cup. It’s going to be a big challenge and I’m hoping to make a mark out there,” Dolokoto said.

“Sometimes I feel nervous but I the coaches and management have put their faith in me so I’m trying not to be.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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