'I love our philosophy' - Matavesi signs on for more at Saints

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Sam Matavesi says he is ‘delighted’ to be staying at Saints.

The 31-year-old put pen to paper on a new deal at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Wednesday afternoon.

With Mike Haywood retiring this summer, Saints made sure Matavesi would be going nowhere.

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It has been some journey for the Fiji star at Saints as he initially arrived on a short-term deal from Cornish Pirates in December 2019.

Sam MatavesiSam Matavesi
Sam Matavesi

Matavesi, who has 22 Fiji caps to his name, has since gone on to establish himself as the first-choice option at hooker.

And he said: “Northampton really feels like home now for my family, so I’m delighted to sign on again with the club.

“I’ve been here since 2019 but I now feel like I have earned my position as a first-team regular, and I love our philosophy and how we play the game here at Saints.

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“I love the environment; it’s been fantastic under both Chris Boyd and Phil Dowson, and opening up the new training centre last week also just shows that this is a club that is doing all the right things to get better."

Matavesi began his career at hometown club Camborne, progressing though Cornwall’s grassroots rugby system with stints at Plymouth Albion and Cornish Pirates after graduating from Exeter Chiefs’ academy.

The front rower’s career sky-rocketed in 2019 as his form earned him a loan spell with Toulouse, a French Top 14 title, and spot on the plane to the 2019 Rugby World Cup with the Flying Fijians – before he arrived at the Gardens at the close of the year.

Matavesi balances his rugby with a military career in the Royal Navy – the Able Seaman’s stationing at RNAS Culdrose has already seen him feature in four of the annual Babcock Trophy clashes with the Army at Twickenham, as well as earn the Cossack Sword award in 2018 and UK Armed Forces Sportsman of the Year award in 2020.

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“I remain extremely grateful to the Royal Navy for allowing me to continue playing rugby at the elite level, and to Saints’ coaches for their understanding of my role within the Navy," Matavesi said.

"As a rugby player, you need to look to your future after your retirement, and it’s great to know I still have my career with the Navy ahead of me when that time comes.

“But I’m firmly focused on the years ahead in Northampton, and I am desperate to win something for the club and our supporters.

"I genuinely believe that we can beat any side on our day and we just need to find some consistency, so lifting a trophy with Saints is a huge target for me looking forwards.”

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Saints boss Phil Dowson couldn't be happier to see Matavesi sign on for more at the Gardens.

“It’s fantastic to have Sam extend his contract,” Dowson said.

“He’s been a quality player since he signed for Saints.

“He’s got bags of skill and is very dangerous in terms of what he does in the loose, some of the breaks he makes, and his ability to offload.

“But I’ve also been particularly impressed with all the effort he puts in which often goes unseen to improve his set piece work and his defensive capability.

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“He’s an international player with Fiji, so his experience there is invaluable, as is the massive energy he brings to our environment, both on and off the pitch.

“Sam’s unbelievably competitive in training – whether that’s throwing with the other hookers, in a contact session, or trying to beat all our backs off the tee in kicking contests – which drives everyone’s standards up across the club.

“We’re confident that with Sam signed up for the long term, as well as the other hookers already in place for the 2023/24 season, we’ll have one of the strongest groups in that position in the Gallagher Premiership.”