Metro move for Matavesi
March 29, 2011
Josh Matavesi manages to off-load in the tackle © Getty Images
Exeter Chiefs have announced that Fijian starlet Josh Matavesi has joined Racing Metro with immediate effect.
The 20-year-old back has been drafted into the Racing squad for the rest of the season as a "medical joker" on the back of an injury to Juan Martin Hernandez. However, Matavesi will then sign a two-year contract with the Parisians in the summer. The player admitted that the whirlwind nature of the move had take its toll on him.
"Whilst I am looking forward to the new challenge, it's been an emotional day for me," he said. "For the past two years I have spent nearly every day with the guys and built some good relationships with everyone at the club. At somewhere like Exeter you don't have just one best friend within the squad, your friends are the whole squad because we are such a tight-knit bunch.
"If I'm honest I don't really want to go because of the boys and that, but I need to play rugby if I want to improve. Opportunities like this don't come along very often. I've just turned 20 and playing in the Top 14 with a club like Racing Metro is definitely something special. However, I just have to really concentrate for the initial few weeks, get my head down and settle in as best I can."
Indeed, Matavesi is hoping that he can make a big impact in France and earn himself a place in the Fiji squad for this year's World Cup.
"The World Cup is in the back of my mind, but first I have to get myself into the Racing squad and get used to what they do," he added. "It's going to be a bit of culture shock for me; it's not going to be easy, but it's a chance for me to try something different.
"I have been watching a couple of Racing games and it suits my style, they want to throw the ball around and that's right up my street. I'm looking forward to having that bit of freedom, but I am going to find it tough early on. It's taken me two years to learn the calls here, so who knows how long it will take me in France!"
Meanwhile, Exeter boss Rob Baxter believes that the move has come at the right time for both the player and the club.
"I think probably Josh would be the first to admit, as would I, that his time has probably run with us and he now has a great challenge ahead of him going over to Racing Metro," he said. "He's come in today to say his goodbyes to everyone; he's trained very well and he goes now with our blessing. We have said to him this is a big opportunity for him, so make sure you work hard and take it. For us it's disappointing that a lad who has come through our academy system is moving on because we maybe feel we haven't got the best out of him, but sometimes that is the way it goes.
"He has done pretty well here during his time at the club. It's always difficult when players move on, but the time was right for both parties for him to move. Maybe in a different rugby environment to Exeter he may thrive, I just think the fit between Exeter Chiefs and Josh wasn't quite what it needed to be for him to push on any further with us.
"I have just said to him now I hope our paths cross sooner rather than later - and now he needs to grab this opportunity with both hands."
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