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'Fantastic example' Matawalu takes up a Welsh Premiership deal

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

One of the most curious transfers of the summer was confirmed on Wednesday evening when Welsh Premiership club Pontypridd revealed they had signed Niko Matawalu, the Fijian international who last season lined out for Montauban in the French Pro D2. The seasoned utility back had just last weekend played for Racing 92 – along with ex-England winger Christian Wade – in the SuperSevens tournament at Pau.


However, rather than remaining on in France in the hope of picking up a medical joker deal somewhere along the line for the 2022/23 season, he was instead unveiled as the new Pontypridd player/skills coach just days before the start of their Welsh Premiership campaign at home to Cardiff.

Wales will now become the fourth European country that Matawalu will base himself. It was 2012 when the Fijian first arrived in Europe, signing for Glasgow where his initial three-year sting culminated in the Warriors defeating Munster in the 2015 PRO12 final in Belfast.

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Matawalu next headed to England, spending a year at Bath before returning to Glasgow for another four campaigns before last season’s French adventure at Montauban. He has now arrived at Pontypridd on a part-time role.

A club statement read: “Pontypridd RFC are delighted to announce the signing of Fijian star Nikola Matawalu as player/skills coach.

“The 33-year-old, who can play scrum-half or wing, has had a glittering career and lists Glasgow Warriors and Bath amongst some of his former clubs as well as winning 41 international caps for Fiji. It was also only last November that Niko played for Fiji against Wales at the Principality Stadium in the 2021 Autumn Nations Series. Welcome to Pontypridd, Niko!”


Pontypridd head coach Justin Burnell said: “This is another fantastic example of Pontypridd RFC and USW [University of South Wales] once again working hand in hand to enable a professional rugby player who has decided to concentrate on his career after rugby.

“Niko will be studying BSc (Hons) rugby coaching and performance and will become a part-time player/skills coach for Pontypridd RFC and a performance coach for Pontypridd Schools Dewar Shield team.”


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RUGBYPASS+ Van der Merwe's heroics silence the Twickenham masses Van der Merwe's heroics silence the Twickenham masses