Edinburgh eye Fijian forward who won Olympic gold

Viliame Mata was part of the Fiji side which won a historic gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Viliame Mata was part of the Fiji side which won a historic gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons hinted yesterday that Fijian Olympic champion Viliame Mata will be joining the club.

Reports in the Fijian media last week said that a deal had been done and the 24-year-old lock/flanker was awaiting visas for him and his family to make their way to Scotland. However, there has been no official announcement from Edinburgh as yet.

Asked about Mata, Solomons said: “I think there will be an announcement in due course. But be positive. Very positive.”

Mata was part of the Fiji squad which won the world sevens series last season and then a historic first Olympic medal for the South Seas island when they beat Great Britain to gold in the Rio final.

Solomons was speaking after naming his team for the Pro12 opener at Cardiff this evening, with a Pacific Island flavour in the midfield as Samoa-born Sasa Tofilau and Solomoni ‘Junior’ Rasolea, who is of Fijian descent, fill the centre berths.

Last week Edinburgh managing director Jonny Petrie dismissed rumours linking John Hardie with a move to Wasps. The Scotland flanker is not in the squad this weekend but Solomons said: “John had a little bit of a run out here, he got stuck in New Zealand, there was a delay with his visa, and he definitely looks to me like he’s underdone and needs an extra week of conditioning. So he’s stayed in the rugby programme.”

Cornell du Preez, the No 8 who had a clean-out operation on his ankle at the end of the season, has been released to play for Heriot’s today.

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