Tue 14 Dec 2021 | 12:12

'It was a big challenge': Matera opens up on Crusaders move

'It was a big challenge': Matera opens up on Crusaders move
Tue 14 Dec 2021 | 12:12
'It was a big challenge': Matera opens up on Crusaders move
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SPOTLIGHT: Argentina star Pablo Matera has opened up on his “challenging” move to Christchurch ahead of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

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The 28-year-old was officially unveiled as a Crusaders player to media on Tuesday after the announcement of his signing way back in April.

Matera, who joins from French club Stade Francais, has plenty of experience playing in Super Rugby for the Jaguares, but he never thought he would be wearing the famous red and black colours of Crusaders.

“Everybody knows the Crusaders. I’ve known the Crusaders since I was a young kid watching TV,” he said.

“I was really lucky to be able to play against them, something that we in Argentina always thought was impossible, but with the Jaguares, being able to be in the competition for a couple of years, it was a dream come true to play against them.

“I never thought I was going to be able to actually play for them, so I thought that the dream had already come true, but now I think there is something more to lose.

“I am really glad to be here and have the opportunity to be here.”

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Speaking on his journey to get to Christchurch, Matera said there were some doubts due to challenges involving Covid-19 and quarantine.

“It was a big challenge. My partner made it possible, to be honest, because we had to move from Paris to Argentina and then from Argentina coming here,” Matera explained.

“Obviously with Covid and getting a spot in MIQ [managed isolation quarantine] and everything, it was quite challenging, but we put in a lot of effort and made it happen, so I’m really glad. I’m really glad we’re finally here.

“We started talking with everyone six months ago, and I really didn’t know if it was going to be possible because every day things change and it was getting harder and harder.”

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Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said Matera’s versatility in the back row will be valuable over a long campaign.

“That’s the good thing about his experience, coming in and playing international rugby, and all of the three loose forward positions, is really important for us,” Robertson said of Matera.

“There are high-attritional players in that position, so you normally lose one or two loose forwards over the season and you need depth.

“Losing Tom [Sanders] and Whetu [Douglas] to Japan, when the opportunity came [to sign Matera], it was pretty clear with Pablo.

“What I really loved when Pablo mentioned that one of the reasons he is coming over was that he wanted to learn to be a better player.

“Obviously to win championships as well, but to learn and help his own game as well, and he said he believed he could help us and our group.

“I talked to a few of the leaders about the opportunity coming over, and it was ‘yes’ straight away, they didn’t hesitate.

“We know what we’ll gain from him and the experience he’ll get for us and gain for himself as a player.”

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