Sam Matavesi: Cornish Pirates hooker reflects on Fiji return and new contract at club

Sam Matavesi
Sam Matavesi's brother and father have also played for Fiji

"The party started at two and didn't stop until about 10 in the morning."

Fiji and Cornish Pirates hooker Sam Matavesi has had a lot to celebrate in the past seven days.

The 26-year-old was in the first Fiji side ever to beat France last week, and has just agreed a new two-year contract with the Championship side.

"It's an honour to play with Fiji and to be in and around those players," the Camborne-born front-row told BBC Radio Cornwall, after recovering from a party which also included copious amounts of Fijian 'grog'.

"It's a root of a plant crushed down into powder and mixed with water and it's an island thing, but the Fijians absolutely love it," he said.

Fiji perform the Cibi
Matavesi (left with headband), says he forgot the moves to Fiji's pre-match Cibi when they faced Scotland

Having switched to the front row from being a flanker, Matavesi has thrived both for club and country.

The son of a former Fiji captain who moved to Cornwall in the 1980s and worked in the mines, Matavesi has rugby pedigree running through his veins - his brothers Joel and Josh are both at Premiership Newcastle Falcons with Josh also having played for Worcester, Ospreys and Racing Metro.

But Sam has had to wait five years - and change positions - for a second chance with the Fiji squad.

He started against Scotland and France - where the Pacific islanders beat their hosts 21-14 in a historic win at the Stade de France.

"It's special, what it's done now is it makes you want more, you want that feeling again," added Matavesi, who is hoping to learn Fijian in time for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Sam Matavesi is sent off for the Royal Navy
Sam Matavesi joined the Royal Navy last year but did not have a great time against the Army at Twickenham in May

"With a World Cup on the horizon that's something that you don't want to get in your mind too much now, but it's something that's definitely there.

He added: "In the game, we just got more confident, we had a couple of tries disallowed in the first half which, on another day, could have been given.

"I thought as a squad and as a team we put in an absolute shift and, on the day, we were the better team probably."

Matavesi's transformation has coincided with a move to Cornish Pirates and a role with the Royal Navy at RNAS Culdrose.

"I don't think I'd be playing for Fiji if it wasn't for Gavin Cattle, Alan Paver and everyone at the Pirates.

"I came this time last year and it just shows you the work that both coaches and all the squad have put in - it's helped me improve and get better."

Top Stories