Viliame Mata says he feels ‘truly blessed’ after signing new Edinburgh contract
The popular No 8 joined the club in 2016 after helping Fiji win gold at the Olympic Sevens in Rio but he admitted he struggled to settle in Scotland and wasn’t sure whether he would last at the capital club.
He credits the club’s strength and conditioning (S&C) staff and head coach Richard Cockerill for helping him turn things around.
The 29-year-old has developed into a key player for Edinburgh, one who provides the “x-factor”, according to Cockerill. His influence saw him nominated for the European Player of the Year and named Guinness Pro14 Players' Player of the Year in 2018/19.
Mata, who is now settled in Edinburgh with his wife, Wati, and two children, Vinny (6) and Bill Junior (2), said: “I feel truly blessed and I thank God for another opportunity to extend our stay here in Edinburgh.
“Edinburgh Rugby is heading to a good stage right now and think we’re building together well as a team. Since I started with Edinburgh Rugby, I’ve felt my rugby has progressed season after season, so staying with the club means I can hopefully progress even more and aim higher than where I am now.
“All the staff have been really helpful, especially the S&C who have created a personal programme for me to suit my recovery and physical needs.
“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.
“After the second year, Cockers came in and the S&C programme started to change. I felt like I had a bit more in me that I could show. Since then, I’ve been grabbing every opportunity. That’s why I’m still here now and staying for more.”
Since arriving in Edinburgh Mata has made 81 appearances for the club, earned 17 caps for his country and become one of the most sought-after signatures in the game.
Cockerill said: “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.
“He’s a devastating, powerful runner in broken field and from the back of the scrum and has the passing and offloading skills in and before the tackle to bring players around him into the game from nowhere.
“He has worked exceptionally hard over his career to develop those soft skills which complement a lot of the excellent and more understated work he gets through in a game.
“The physical side of his game has come on a great deal in his time here thanks to near personal care from our S&C team. He’s had a huge amount of support in that area and we’ve reaped the benefits of his commitment to new training and nutrition regimes through his performances on the park.
“We take in pride in our care for players and I think that has played a big part in keeping him here.”