Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter believes new signing Niko Matawalu can add some real ‘X-Factor’ to his backline after he today agreed a deal until the end of the season.
The Fijian international will head to Sandy Park from Aviva Premiership rivals Bath Rugby and will join up with his new team-mates once the current autumn internationals are concluded.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) November 8, 2016
Equally at home either on the wing or at scrum-half, Baxter believes the 27-year-old is a great addition to the Chiefs make-up and is excited at what he can bring to the club moving forward.
“Initially Niko’s joining until the end of the season,” said Baxter. “Initially we want to have a good look at him and then we’ll see if there is an opportunity beyond that.
“As a club we’re really looking forward to bringing him here. We had a good look at him previously when he first decided to move on from Glasgow to Bath, but now the opportunity has arisen for us to sign him and it’s come at the right time for us.
“We’re not expecting him to be 100 per cent straight away as he has had a relatively lengthy injury, but he’s fully fit now, he’s ready to play, and we’re hoping he will get some good game time during these autumn internationals to help get him right up to speed.”
Having come up against Matawalu in action for both Bath and Glasgow Warriors in the past, Baxter is well aware of the threat posed by the livewire back, who has won 28 international caps for his country.
“He’s an exciting player, someone you describe as an ‘X-Factor’ type player,” added the Chiefs leader. “He’s someone we feel will add a bit of sparkle to what we are wanting to achieve here at the club.
“As I said, he can play on the wing or at scrum-half and we’ll certainly look at him in both positions. Right now I think he’s what we are looking for as I think he will add that little bit of energy and sparkle to things.
“Having met Niko and seeing the energy he exudes just in walking around and talking, I think he will be a very good fit for us.”
Matawalu’s arrival will signal a fourth Fijian to have joined the Chiefs ranks during the Premiership era, following in the footsteps of Sireli Naqelevuki, Josh Matavesi and Nemani Nadolo.
The 27 year-old has made 13 appearances during his time at Bath Rugby, with injury hampering Matawalu’s game time over recent months.
“I have enjoyed my time here at Bath very much,” said Matawalu. “However, this is a good opportunity for me to get more game time with Exeter, and so it is the right step for me to further my career. I’d like to thank everyone at Bath for their support, and wish them all the best for the future.”
Director of Rugby, Todd Blackadder, added: “Niko has been a great character to have around the squad, but we understand that he would like to get more game time and wish him well.”