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'Family's everything': Sam Matavesi is a doubt for Fiji quarter-final

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images)

Fiji have issued an update on the situation surrounding hooker Sam Matavesi, who left the squad earlier this week to return to England following the death of his father.

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The Northampton front-rower has started all four of his country’s matches at the Rugby World Cup, but it isn’t yet clear whether he will line out against the English in next Sunday’s quarter-finals in Marseille.

“The team would like to send our condolences to Sam and the family. We heard that Sam’s old man passed, I think, Tuesday night. He has been one of our senior leaders. We will see in the coming days if he is going to join us. He is back in England,” explained kicking coach Seremaia Bai.

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It’s the second bereavement to affect the Fiji squad in recent weeks, following on from the death of Josua Tuisova’s son. “In Fiji family is everything,” continued Bai.

“We have been 15 weeks away from our families since we started this campaign so we make that this becomes our family. If one suffers, we all suffer. In Fiji, we are kind of a family even if we are from different provinces. We become very close.

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“We know the players and the families come from humble beginnings and we make sure there is the care and the love that they need. It is a very tough moment but we need to stay together and care for one another.”

In the meantime, Fiji have bolstered their squad ahead of their quarter-final by bringing in a replacement for the injured Temo Mayanavanua. “Yes. The coaches are bringing in Api Ratuniyarawa. Api has been with this squad from the beginning of our campaign and has been playing here in France. He will be joining us sometime this week.”

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