Ospreys swoop on Fiji centre
Fri, 31 Jan 2014 11:38
I've been around a fair bit
Ospreys revealed that they have signed Fijian international Josh Matavesi on a two-year deal.
The 23-year old Matavesi will join the region from Worcester Warriors in the off-season on a contract that runs until the end of the 2015/16 season.
A versatile and exciting player, Matavesi is being signed primarily as a centre, although he can play across the backline. He is 1.85m tall and weighs in at 93kg.
Born and raised in Cornwall with a Fijian father, Matavesi is a product of the Exeter Academy, breaking through into the Chiefs set-up as a teenager before being snapped up by Racing Metro as a 20-year old. After featuring regularly for Racing at inside centre, he returned to England 15 months later when he signed for Worcester in 2012, and he has made 37 appearances for the Sixways club to date, scoring three tries.
Although named in the England Under-20 squad for the 2009 Six Nations, Matavesi opted instead to represent the land of his father and went to the Junior World Championship in Argentina the following year representing Fiji - where he played against Wales.
To date, he has six full international caps - including a 16-16 draw against Wales at the Millennium Stadium - and has scored 14 points with his boot.
"I'm really excited about this move," said Matavesi
"I've been down for a look around the place and I liked what I saw and heard. Steve Tandy and Andy Lloyd presented how they see the Ospreys developing and how they want the team to go and I really want to be a part of it. There's a very good youth system with lots of good players coming through, which does excite me.
"The coaches want the team to play a good style of rugby, which is important to me. It's a young squad, particularly among the backs, but with plenty of games behind them. I've been around a fair bit myself now, despite being relatively young, and hopefully I can add something different.
"It's a new experience for me and I'm looking forward to it. All my fiancee's family are Welsh, and we talked it over. It's a really good move for us as a family. I've got half a season left at Worcester though, there's a big job still to be done and that is my sole focus between now and May, before I can even look too closely at the future and at the Ospreys."
Andy Lloyd, Ospreys Rugby Operations Manager, said: "We are delighted to be able to announce the signing of Josh, which is something of a coup for the Ospreys. He's very skilful, very talented player who has been on our radar for a number of years. Although he came through the English system, he was picked up pretty early by Fiji, and being proud of his Fijian heritage has opted to go down that route.
"He's been courted by a number of big clubs over the last few years, and had an experience with Racing Metro that he has learned from and which has made him a better player and person for it.
"He's been excellent for Worcester in the Premiership, last season in particular. He's got the capacity to light up games with his range of skills that will add something different to what we've got here already, but also, he has a physical presence. He offers us another good left footed kicking option from midfield, and although we are looking to utilise him primarily as a centre, the ability to play elsewhere will give us options as we look to deal with the challenges of a long season.
"Having spoken to him, to people close to him and people who have played with and against him, we know he's a vocal character and another young, dynamic personality who will grow with the group around him."
Matavesi will find one familiar face when he arrives in the Ospreys set-up, in the shape of fellow back Hanno Dirksen. The pair attended Cornwall's Truro College together, and both played a major part in the College's success in the 2008/09 Daily Mail RBS Schools Cup, which saw Truro win the final at Twickenham against St Peter's School from Gloucester. Dirksen, who has played 48 times for the Ospreys, scored two tries for Truro in the final, with Matavesi also touching down as well as adding five points with his boot in a 39-18 victory.
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