Packed BT Murrayfield fits the ‘Bill’ for Edinburgh favourite Mata

Fiji's Viliame 'Bill' Mata during a training session at Merchiston Castle  School in Edinburgh. Picture: Bruce White/SNS
Fiji's Viliame 'Bill' Mata during a training session at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh. Picture: Bruce White/SNS
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Fiji No 8 Viliame “Bill” Mata has enjoyed welcoming countrymen to his adopted home city but admits the BT Murrayfield he is so familiar with will be a different experience during Saturday’s Test match.

“Murrayfield is a home ground to me, I’ve played a lot of my rugby there,” said the explosive back-rower, who has been one of Edinburgh’s top performers this season and become a firm fans favourite.

“I’ve told the boys here that it’s a great place to play rugby, a great stadium and a great pitch. It’s not that full when we play – but I was there to watch Scotland play England and it was fully packed, obviously.

“It will be an amazing experience to play in that kind of atmosphere, to play Scotland at home.”

Mata has been giving as much inside information as he can to the Fijian coaching team and is looking forward to winning what would be the 27-year-old’s eighth cap, with a game against Uruguay in Gloucester and a Test against France in Lille following later in the month.

“At the moment, we’re just reviewing our game because we haven’t played together since last June,” said Mata. “Because of that, we’re keeping everything short and simple and looking to make a good start to our November Tests. It will be a little strange for me, because there are a lot of Edinburgh boys – and plenty of Glasgow players – in the Scotland team. But I’m looking forward to the challenge. And I know it is a big challenge, especially playing against the Edinburgh boys.”

Friendships will be put aside for 80 minutes, with Mata identifying hooker Stuart McInally and Hamish Watson as the toughest clubmates he could be facing.

“But I won’t be avoiding them. You have to play against them if they’re there,” he said.

“We’ve got a good squad together for this series. We need to make a good start.”

Mata said he is loving life at Edinburgh, with a two-try man-of-the-match performance against Scarlets the latest addition to his highlights reel.

“I came in late last year because my Visa application was held up,” he explained. “This year, the strength and conditioning programme put together by Edinburgh has been perfect for me – and that’s why I’m playing better.

“It was important for Fiji to beat Scotland back home. But to come here and win would be different.”