Fresh on the heels of adding Fijian Rugby World Cup hooker Sam Matavesi in a mid-season move from Cornish Pirates, RugbyPass understands that Northampton Saints are set to sign Matavesi’s international teammate, Eroni Mawi.
The loosehead, 23, has been available since the end of the Rugby World Cup and has been playing his rugby with the Fijian Drua side in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) in Australia and the Fijian Latui side in Global Rapid Rugby.
He was part of the Fiji 23 that played Australia, Uruguay and Wales at the Rugby World Cup and currently has 14 caps to his name, the last of which came in Fiji’s recent game against the Barbarians at Twickenham. He is also a former captain of the Pacific nation’s U20 side.
Providing a solid presence at the set-piece, Mawi has been one of the catalysts for Fiji’s improvement at the scrum over the last few years and will now get a chance to hone those skills in the Gallagher Premiership, where he could join Matavesi and Api Ratuniyarawa in a particularly Fijian tight five at Franklin’s Gardens.
Mawi will be in competition with club captain and stalwart Alex Waller for a spot on the loosehead side of the scrum, as well as South African Francois van Wyk and budding youngster Toby Trinder, who has been on dual registration with Greene King IPA Championship side Coventry.
Saints have found themselves able to strengthen mid-season due to the retirements of Dylan Hartley and Heinrich Brussow at the beginning of this campaign, with the veteran pair’s departures opening up room in the salary cap and space in the squad for new arrivals.
Northampton are currently flying high at the top of the Premiership, as well as winning two from two in the Heineken Champions Cup, as they lean on their explosive attacking game under Director of Rugby Chris Boyd and attack coach Sam Vesty.
Their high-tempo playing style has seen them outscore, points and tries, all 11 other Premiership clubs so far this season and the signing of Matavesi and Mawi, assuming the latter is confirmed, will add two more tight five players capable of adding to that game plan, whilst also attempting to bolster their resources at the set-piece.
Mawi’s signing, plus that of Drua and international teammate Frank Lomani, who is joining up with the Melbourne Rebels, is a strong endorsement of the pathway that the Drua’s involvement in the NRC has helped create for players on-island in Fiji.
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