Rugby: Scots’ trip to Fiji fuels fire inside Talei to post wins

Netani Talei
Netani Talei
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Fijian firecracker Netani Talei has revealed an additional reason for trying to ensure success for Edinburgh Rugby – continuing with tomorrow’s vital Heineken European Cup clash with Cardiff at Murrayfield.

But the 28-year-old back row, who captained his country against Wales during one of four appearances in the recent World Cup which took his cap tally to 21, knows also that continuing to help nurture a raft of up and coming forward talent could backfire when Scotland head for the South Pacific next summer.

“I really look forward to playing for Fiji at home to Scotland next summer,” said Talei, aware that key to that ambition could lie in continuing to make an impact in Europe.

He adds: “Already people are talking about Scotland’s visit which will be one of the biggest of the summer for us.

“We play Tonga, Samoa and Japan every year but a Test against Scotland will be something different and I want to be part of that.”

Fiji’s only World Cup win this Autumn – despite a try for Talei against Samoa – came against Namibia and he admits: “We didn’t have a good World Cup because we had a lot of inexperienced players. But with the young bloods getting more experience and others coming through that is something we can deal with going forward to 2015.

“A good outing against Scotland will be a big part of that.”

Another reason for Talei to turn on the style tomorrow is the fact that Heineken Cup highlights are broadcast in the southern hemisphere.

“There is so much excitement around the Heineken Cup that if every match I played was in this competition I’d be happy not taking anything away from the Rabo Dirct Pro 12 League were we have to finish as high as possible,” he said.

“But the Heineken Cup means playing the best names and the best teams.

“It is covered in Fiji and hopefully they will get to watch the game this weekend.”

Talei is certainly giving the folks back home plenty to cheer about.

Last season, when Edinburgh were overhauled in going down 27-31 at home to Northampton, he notched a sensational try eloquently summed up by one English newspaper correspondent, who remarked: “This report is not long enough to list all the players who handled ... as play moved so elegantly and swiftly from one end of the field to the other. Suffice it to say Netani Talei finished it in the corner.”

This time round Talei notched what was arguably the try which sparked the Edinburgh comeback from 21 points adrfit to defeat Racing Metro 48-47.

“It was good to have a try after coming back from the World Cup and sitting on the bench for some games.

“Scoring the try was the turning point of our game against Racing. We needed that try to get the win. I was happy getting the try and pleased for the team as well.

“If it is a one-on-one situation like I was in you have to make use of the space.

“When I got hold of the ball the first thing that came through my mind was score a try – so I did!”

Hopefully there will be plenty more with Talei keeping options open about an extended stay in the Capital.

“I signed a two-year deal [from Worcester] with a one-year option and if things go well I could extend. Perhaps a good Heineken campaign would help but also a good Pro 12 campaign, too, as we want to be the best in our league.”

However, he is not looking past the Cardiff test, especially with Edinburgh having gone down 8-25 last weekend in the Principality.

“Last week we played decent. We didn’t come out with a win which we wanted so this weekend is big for us. We need to win this game to stay in the pool. Everybody is trying not to think about it too much but by Friday everybody will be psyched up.

“There’s nothing new about Cardiff, who play the same type of rugby week in week out. It is how they execute things that makes them so good.

“We are more adventurous with the ball and if we execute moves well nobody can touch us. But we need to execute well first.”