Flying Fijian coach Vern Cotter is urging explosive No8 Viliame Mata to make the right choice of club if he decides to quit Edinburgh at the end of this season. Cotter was unable to include the injured Mata in his Autumn Nations Cup squad which saw the Fijian team restricted to one game against Georgia due to a series of positive COVID-19 tests at their French training base.
If Mata does leave Edinburgh, who he joined in 2016, a club in France is the most likely option although the No8 is still trying to recapture his best ball carrying form following the injury lay-off.
Former Scotland coach Cotter told the Fiji Sun: “We are hoping he stays at Edinburgh or goes to a similar club that has the same quality of professionalism that Edinburgh has. We will be strictly monitoring him right through building up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
“He has just returned from a reasonably long term injury and it is important that he has exceptional strength and conditioning support including nutrition and competition for team spots.”
During his time with Edinburgh Mata received the Guinness Pro14 Player’s Player Award for the 2018-2019 season and is one of the most explosive ball carriers in European rugby – when fully fit.
Mata, 29, arrived at Edinburgh having helped Fiji win Olympic Gold at the 2016 Games in Rio and represented his country at nine events on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens circuit, scoring 11 tries.
He scored a try in Fiji’s 43-7 victory over Great Britain in the Olympic final and current sevens coach Gareth Baber has revealed he is prepared to consider players currently playing 15s rugby in Europe for the defence of the gold medal in the Tokyo Games next year.
Mata agreed a one-year extension to his deal, keeping him at Edinburgh until at least 2021 and head coach Richard Cockerill will want to keep on of his most influential forwards.
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