Netani TALEI will be fuelled by an urge to bring further honour to his family back in the South Seas if chosen to help restore some respectability to Edinburgh Rugby’s Heineken European Cup campaign on Sunday in Munster.
Proud Fijian Talei knows that every time he pulls on a jersey he is effectively representing the country he is expected to continue captaining in the forthcoming Autumn Tests, with matches scheduled against England at Twickenham and Georgia as well as Gloucester and Ireland A.
“I don’t want to be someone who plays week in, week out. I want to be more than that,” said Talei, who had to wait until late on to get off the bench as Edinburgh crashed 45-0 to Saracens in their Murrayfield opener.
He added: “I want to make a household name of myself. I feel every time I play for Edinburgh I am representing Fiji too. I want my family to get recognised as well.
“I don’t come from a sporting household, although my father played rugby as an amateur. There are a lot of households with stronger rugby connections than ours. But for me that adds to the importance of doing well.”
To that end, a sequence of man-of-the-match honours as Edinburgh marched to the Heineken Cup semi-finals last year has served as a benchmark.
“I want to get two or three more man-of-the-matches in the Heineken this season and also in the Rabo Direct League.
“For me, these awards show I can stand up to the bigger names. That’s what I want. That’s what I want to be known for.”
However, he is realistic enough to know that selection issues are outwith his hands.
“I go along with what plans the coaches have for me,” said the man whose 18 minutes from off the bench last weekend contrasted with six appearances, all starts, in 2011-12.
Added Talei, who has set up a charity back home to help cancer stricken children: “If I get a start I will make the best out of it. If not, I still have to improve my game.
“At the moment I’m itching to play, but If I don’t get to play, I am backing the team 100 per cent.
“I feel the same as the boys who started the game and the coaches, because we are a team.
“This is a new beginning. Munster is probably going to be twice as hard, but hopefully we turn up on the day.
“We have lost four games in a row and our confidence is not great. Hopefully the old heads in the team can help the boys rebuild.
“We lost to Munster by five points at the beginning of the season and that could happen again if we don’t change things.
“It is about individual players coming out on the day, giving what they have to offer and not holding back.”
So, what was Talei’s take on the Saracens defeat?
“It was individual players not executing what we were being taught to do,”he replied.
“We are being given a game plan but playing teams like Saracens, who are consistent throughout the year in the Premiership, they dominated us – which is what they wanted to achieve.
“We came out in the first five minutes, but as soon as we took our foot off the pedal to see what they had to offer, they came at us throughout the whole 80 minutes. We knew what they were capable of, but they were a very physical side, a big name in rugby.
“It’s frustrating, because this is what happened to us in the first phase of the season last year, but somehow it has gone a bit worse for us.
“But it is just the beginning of the season (and) not too late for us to change things.
“We will just let that go, regroup and go to Munster this weekend.
“There is a lot of frustration. Everyone was just losing their heads. Things didn’t go our way.
“The boys are going through a hard time at the moment and I think the feeling in the squad will be different because everyone wants to be in the semi-finals like last year.
“It’s not too late. Hopefully there will be a different atmosphere in the team.
“Every week after a game we go through our games and look forward to the teams we play.
“But at the end of the day it comes down to individual responsibility.
“The coaches give you all the information you need. It is up to you how you get that involved in the game.
“If you worry about yourself, everything within team will fall into place.
“If you worry about the bigger picture you lose control of yourself.”