'X-factor' Mata extends Edinburgh stay
TRANSFER NEWS: Fiji back-row Viliame ‘Bill’ Mata has signed a contract extension with Edinburgh, the Scottish capital rugby club announced Tuesday.
The length of his new deal was undisclosed.
Mata, 29, joined Edinburgh in 2016 soon after helping Fiji win Sevens gold at that year’s Rio Olympics, where he scored a try in a 43-7 win over Great Britain in the final.
A dynamic ball-carrier, Mata soon established himself at Edinburgh and received the Pro14 Players’ Player Award for the 2018/19 season.
He suffered a setback in September when he sustained severe ankle ligament damage during a European Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Bordeaux, with the injury ruling him out of Fiji’s subsequent Nations Cup campaign.
“I feel truly blessed and I thank God for another opportunity to extend our stay here in Edinburgh,” said Mata, who lives in the city with his wife and two young children, said in a club statement.
“All the staff have been really helpful, especially the S&C [strength and conditioning] who have created a personal programme for me to suit my recovery and physical needs,” the 17-times capped loose forward added.
“To be honest, in my second season, I wasn’t sure I’d last long in Edinburgh, maybe because of the difference in weather and being so far from home, but we feel truly blessed that we are still here and that my family now call Edinburgh ‘home’ as well.”
Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill added: “We’re delighted to be able to extend Bill’s contract. He’s a player of undeniable talent and brings a real X-factor to the side.
“We take pride in our care for players and I think that has played a big part in keeping him here.”
Mata’s decision to stay at Edinburgh is sure to be welcomed by Fiji coach Vern Cotter.
In December, when it appeared the No 8 might leave the club when his contract expired, former Scotland coach Cotter told the Fiji Sun: “We are hoping he stays at Edinburgh or goes to a similar club that has the same quality of professionalism that Edinburgh has.”
Cotter, who said he would be monitoring Mata’s progress ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France, added it was vital the No 8 received “exceptional strength and conditioning support”.