Josh Matavesi has settled into life at Bath after his stint at Newcastle Falcons and a trip to Japan for the Pool stages of Rugby World Cup 2019 before signing with the Blue, Black and White in the Gallagher Premiership.
The Fijian flyer joined Bath Rugby during the 2019/20 season and made his debut during the 13-10 win over Leicester Tigers at the Rec in January. After making his third appearance against Bristol Bears at the weekend, Matavesi gained his first taste of a West Country derby at the Rec.
The 29-year-old said: “There is a really important period of work coming up for the team and we need to continue that this weekend when we go to Sandy Park. It’s the final game of the block of four and we know where we are striving towards. We’re fully aware of where the teams are around us, so we need to respond from last weekend and keep up with the pack and stay in the mix.
“There is always an expectation when you put your boots on and get out there because the Gallagher Premiership is such a tough league to play in. There was more spice on the Bristol game because it’s a local derby and because of the previous result at the start of the season at Ashton Gate.”
Matavesi originates in Camborne in Cornwall, growing up in the South West and the uncompromising centre has revealed which Bath Rugby players have been influential in helping him settle into his new surroundings.
Matavesi said: “It means a lot to be back in the West Country. I started my professional career down at Exeter, but Bath is where I spent my school holidays with my Uncle Frank and Auntie Judith. It was around 15 or 16 years ago and for me, it’s gone full circle now. It’s great that a lot of my friends and family can now come up and watch as it’s only an hour in the car rather than eight up to Newcastle which is a tough ask.
“Signing for Bath was the right timing. Newcastle were really positive with the move, they felt that the move would help me develop my game and improve me. I have the utmost respect for Dean Richards, who I would really call a friend. He told me that it was the right move for me, so the timings aligned perfectly. My wife is from Cornwall and I felt it was the right thing to do for us to bring up our kids where we grew up.
“I had an affiliation with the Club all those years ago through my Uncle Frank, who set up the Academy Manager back then. It’s amazing to see his legacy as well. The Academy is such a strong part of Bath Rugby and the Pathway here and the team benefits hugely. You look at how young the team is here and how many of the Academy players are chomping at the bit. The Academy staff are building a quality set up at Bath and it’s exciting to see the talent coming through. It’s great to play with the younger members of the squad who will be a big part of Bath’s future and they inspire and challenge us every day.
Upon settling into the Club, Matavesi revealed which individuals have helped him settle into his surroundings in the West Country.
He said: “I like the way that the Club want to play and how they express themselves. I felt that by joining I could add a bit of experience and a bit of flair to the side. I want to see our backs all get onto the ball and cause trouble in space rather than against a brick wall. We want to release our players because we know how deadly they can be.
“I have settled in really well so far and the boys have been amazing. I have to give a special mention to Max Wright who has been superb in helping me settle with my living arrangements and storing my things in his garage. Jackson (Willison) has really taken the time to go through the calling systems with me and all the small things – it just demonstrates the Club is full of good people who are willing to help.
“Zach Mercer and Elliott Stooke have taken the time to show me around different places and that’s been really helpful to me. I really have appreciated the lengths they’ve gone to in helping me settle in.”