Western Force recruit, flying Fijian Manasa Mataele, will add power, pace to new-look Super Rugby backline
Flying Fijian Manasa Mataele is ready to turn up the heat at the Western Force.
The big winger, who will add power and pace to a new-look backline, has arrived in Perth after signing a two-season deal from New Zealand Super Rugby powerhouse Crusaders.
The speedster chose the Force ahead of new Super Rugby Pacific franchise Fijian Drua.
“This is an exciting opportunity,” the 103kg and 185cm Mataele said.
“It was my last year with the Crusaders and after five years in their environment I wanted to get out and explore more, to grow my rugby and grow as a person.
“There were other options, Fijian Drua for example, but I was trying to find something different and get out of my comfort zone.”
Mataele, 25, played 32 Super games for the Crusaders and made his debut for Fiji against the All Blacks this year.
His career was hampered in the last couple of years by two serious injuries (knee and pectoral) but he is fit and happy to be training in the heat after two weeks quarantine on the Gold Coast.
“They were big injures but I came out of it mentally and physically stronger,” Mataele said.
“I’m happy with the way things are now, really injury fee.
“I’d heard a lot of good things about the Force and coming in I’m feeling the vibe.
“I’ve already sensed an eagerness to get better and learn and that’s something I’m excited about.
“I’m here to learn and hopefully give back as well.
“I’m looking forward to growing my game and learning from the boys.
“I hope I can add value, give my input where I can.
“Hopefully I can bring my offload game, break through tackles and make opportunities for the other boys.
“I’ll be working on that.”
And he is glad to be out of lockdown.
“Two weeks in quarantine, the first couple of days was a bit tough, but I got the hang of it,” Mataele said.
“I couldn’t do a lot of fitness work, but I did what I could, a lot of body work stuff.
“I’m enjoying the heat. I don’t miss the cold back in Christchurch, love this dry weather.”
There is one familiar face at training, forwards assistant Paul Tito, who was coaching at Taranaki in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship when Mataele was starting out on his professional career.
And next year he will be joined by his brother Rupeni, 17, who has signed as a foreign development player to the Force academy for at least two years.
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