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Viliame Mata’s 100th

Flying Fijian No.8 Viliame Mata is the first overseas (non-Scottish qualified) player to play 100 matches in Edin­burgh Rugby's 150-year history.
24 Oct 2022 13:29
Viliame Mata’s 100th
Viliame Mata

Flying Fijian No.8 Viliame Mata is the first overseas (non-Scottish qualified) player to play 100 matches in Edin­burgh Rugby’s 150-year history.

Mata put on a sterling perfor­mance in his 100th match as Edin­burgh romped to a 38-19 win over Zebre in the United Rugby Cham­pionship clash on Saturday. He was named the Player of the Match.

Mata is now officially Edinburgh’s 37th centurion joining Scotland’s back-row greats of Simon Taylor, Ally Hogg and Roddy Grant.

Also celebrating his 31st birthday, Mata was recalled into the Flying Fijians squad for the November Test matches against Scotland, Ire­land and the French Barbarians.

Looking back he signed for Ed­inburgh in late 2016 with no clear plan of how long he was going to stay.

Indeed, when Alan Solomons, the coach who signed him, was sacked just a fortnight later, the Fijian for­ward half-expected to be told he was now surplus to requirements. “I came here in October 2016, and to bedidn’t think I would be here for long when I started running around in the cold,” Mata told The Herald.

“Alan Solomons signed me and then two weeks after he was gone. I thought I was going back to Fiji as well.

“After Solly, Hodgy (Duncan Hodge) took over and then Cock­ers (Richard Cockerill) and now Mike (Blair). I think I just play the same game for all the four coaches. I think the coaches have got a game structure that fits me really well, so I just keep doing what I’m doing.

“My wife has been counting down (to 100) ever since I passed 50. I thought I was going to leave before100.

I think she’s more excited than I am, but it means a lot to me to get 100 caps for Edinburgh Rugby.”

Mata means a lot to Blair too, not only because of his evident ability, but also because of his conscientious approach.

“I feel a real attachment to­wards Bill because of thekind of guy he is,” the coach said.

“He’s quiet, he’s really humble, and he goes about his work. The way he was during his knee injury and how he came back from that­the shape he came back from that – was really impressive. I believe he cares a lot about the club.”

Top 14 action

Meanwhile, Mata’s former team­mate, Mesulame Kunavula started from the bench for CA Brive as they went down 27-0 to Stade Francaise. Full-back Seta Tuicuvu was moved to centre as Brive tried to stop Sefa Naivalu.

Kitione Kamikamica played No.8 for Racing 92 and scored a try in the 37th minute on their way to beat Montpellier 38-31.

Dropped Flying Fijian utility back Josua Tuisova came in as a late replacement for Lyon and scored their winning try in the 78th min­ute as they edged Jale Vatubua’s Pau 31-27.

Veteran centre, Waisea Nayaca­levu, dotted down a try for Toulon as they beat Castres 28-20. Jiuta Wainiqolo was on the wing for Tou­lon while Josua Raisuqe started at openside flanker for Castres while Leone Nakarawa came from the bench.

Sireli Maqala was superb at centre for Bayonne as they beat Perpignan 24-20. He was later joined by En­eriko Buliruarua.

Flying Fijian camp

This week, Mata, Tuicuvu, Naya­calevu, Maqala, Wainiqolo, Temo Mayanavanua, Kamikamica, Eroni Mawi, Api Ratuniyarawa, Kini Murimurivalu, Sam Matavesi and Albert Tuisue are expected to join the Flying Fijians camp in France as they prepare for the first Test match against Scotland on Novem­ber 5 at Edinburgh.

The local-based Flying Fijian play­ers, coaches and technical team flew out of Nadi last Saturday to Auckland, where they joined by New Zealand-based players and of­ficials.

Story By: Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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