No old pals act for Dragons ace Netani Talei
NETANI Talei put Newport Gwent Dragons to the sword last time he played at Murrayfield, tomorrow the Fijian powerhouse is looking to inspire them to glory against Edinburgh.
The 30-year-old makes a swift return to the Scottish capital when he lines up in the Dragons' back row for the RaboDirect Pro12 encounter.
If Talei makes half the impact as he did in the colours of Edinburgh last May then the Rodney Parade region stand a great chance of backing up last weekend's terrific 15-8 success against Ulster.
The Fijian majestically sidestepped Lions star Dan Lydiate when scoring a try and was a constant thorn in the Dragons' side.
This time he has Edinburgh in his sights.
"I'd love to win against my old teammates," he said. "It will be a tough match, my first game starting and I'm looking forward to it.
"I play for the Dragons now, come Friday I will do whatever I can to get the win. Whatever happens on the field stays on the field; afterwards they can be my friend.
"I am a Dragon and will do whatever I can to help beat Edinburgh; it's the opposite of the game at the end of last season.
"Then I just wanted to say farewell to my boys in a good way and make an impression on my new team, showing them what I am capable of."
Talei has literally made himself at home at Rodney Parade.
He has moved into the lodge next to the clubhouse and made a real impact off the bench against Ulster.
That performance was all the more impressive because he only arrived in Wales the previous week after waiting for a visa.
"I've settled in well and the boys have made me feel welcome," said the 27-times capped forward, who hopes to have a British passport by the end of the year.
"I got stuck into things against Ulster and it was good to come away with a win.
"It's a noisy crowd at Rodney Parade, unlike Edinburgh where it is a 60,000-seater stadium with 3,000 people in it. That gives you real motivation to play."
Talei, who plans to study to become a strength and conditioning coach at the end of his career, has plenty of competition in the back row.
Perhaps only Lions star Toby Faletau can lay claim to being as potent as him with ball in hand, but the former Fiji captain insists he is no one-trick pony.
"I like carrying the ball and running at people but if the coach wants me to do something different I am open it," he said.
"I like playing my own game and if it helps the team then great, if it doesn't I am willing to change to push the team forward.
"I play six and eight, when I am at eight I am more of an open player but when I am six I am involved in the nitty gritty.
"I am happy to try new things, work on my weaknesses and keep pushing with my strengths. I prefer eight but Toby is a class player and I am happy play wherever the coaches want me to.
"I respect all the boys that I am playing with at the moment and it's just a matter of trying to work together.
"Whatever back row is chosen you just have to try your best to try and keep your spot as long as you can; you have to make the boys work to get your spot and not just give it up easily.
"I am blessed to be given a start this weekend and will do all I can to keep it."
Comments are closed on this article.