Edinburgh Rugby have confirmed the signing of one of the stars of Fiji’s Olympic Gold medal winning sevens team, second row Viliame ‘Bill’ Mata.
The long-rumoured deal is for two years, subject to visa and medical, and offers Edinburgh fans the opportunity for a Fijian hero to match Glasgow’s Leone Nakarawa, a team-mate of Mata’s in Rio.
Nakarawa – who left the Warriors to join Racing 92 in Paris this summer – and Mata shared second row duties in the Olympic team, with Mata scoring one of the tries in Fiji’s historic 43-7 victory over Team GB in the final.
The 24-year-old joined with his team-mates for a heroes’ welcome back to the island after winning Fiji’s first ever Olympic medal but now he’s ready to come to the capital.
He said: “My first goal was to win the gold medal for Fiji and we got it. Now my goal is to perform well for my new team.
“I am excited about signing for Edinburgh Rugby, and am looking forward to playing for the club.
“I am also excited about arriving in the city and meeting my new team mates.”
A classic ball-playing second row in the Fijian mould – he can also play back row – Mata originally played in league before switching codes to play in nine events of the World Sevens Series circuit, scoring 11 tries.
He has power to go with the speed and skill, standing at 1.97 metres (six feet four and a half inches) and weighing in at over 18 stone.
Mata is the latest in a batch of islanders who have joined Edinburgh for the new season, with Junior Rasolea, Sasa Tofilau and Viliami Fihaki all joining in the summer. The club had a disappointing 34-16 loss at Cardiff in their Guinness PRO12 opener on Saturday.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Alan Solomons said: “We are delighted to welcome Bill to the club.
“He is a hugely talented player and a key part of that fantastic Fiji 7s team that recently won the gold medal. He is big, powerful and explosive and I believe he will add huge value to the team.”