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Premiership Rugby

Nadolo out to impress

Nadolo out to impress

Having wreaked havoc in the French Top 14 this season with Bourgoin, Exeter Chiefs new signing Nemani Nadolo is now hoping to do similar in the Aviva Premiership having finally sealed his move across the Channel.

The Fijian powerhouse, who stands at 6ft 5ins and weighs in at 19st 5lbs, touched down in Devon on Saturday and watched on as his new club brushed aside Leicester Tigers 35-10 in their latest LV= Cup encounter.

The formalities of Nadolo’s switch to Sandy Park were completed over the weekend and the 23-year-old – who has penned an 18-month deal – is now aiming to get involved with his new team-mates as quickly as possible.

“I can’t wait to get involved in the English Premiership, I’ve heard a lot of good things,” said the Fijian international. “It’s a fresh start for me and my career and hopefully coming here will benefit me for future honours.

“I’ve signed for 18 months so I’ve got the rest of this season and next year and I can’t wait to get out there.”

Head coach Rob Baxter has previously hinted that he wants to get his new recruit up to speed as quickly as possible.

Indeed, the former Waratahs star could find himself thrown into the fray as early as this weekend when the Chiefs travel to Newcastle Falcons in their final group game in the LV= Cup.

For Nadolo, a trip to the North East will be nothing new as he has already visited Kingston Park with Bourgoin in the Amlin Challenge Cup. He said: “I played at Newcastle in the Challenge Cup for Bourgoin so it’ll be familiar for me up there. I can’t wait to get involved with the boys, get to know them properly and get into training. If I get picked at the weekend I’ll be relishing it and fingers crossed Rob (Baxter) puts me in the 23. I can’t control that one.”

With fellow Fijians Josh Matavesi and Sireli Naqelevuki already at the club, Nadolo – who grew up as a youngster in Australia – already has some familiar faces to help with his settling in process.

“One of the biggest factors in me moving over here was Sireli, I’m good mates with some of the Fijian boys and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it.”

However, the chance to also test himself in the physical world of English rugby’s top flight was something Nadolo was keen to try out.

He added: “Growing up in Queensland we followed a lot of English Premier League, more so than French rugby,” he said.

“It’s unreal to be here now. I’ve followed it since I was a young boy, Saracens was the team I supported because they had a Fiji half-back in Moses Rauluni.

“The physicality of it is pretty impressive. I remember playing Exeter in the Challenge Cup and that was the most physical game I have played in Europe. Being in this competition will toughen me up physically as well as mentally. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I can’t wait to get involved.”

He continued: “Coming here was not so much about finances but more about the opportunity, coming into a competition like this where it’s physical. No disrespect to the French but there was a language barrier there and coming here I can understand more and learn more.

“I can’t wait to play here. Being in an environment like this the sky’s the limit and it’s up to me to put it in. I’ve come here with the ambition of being in the 23 but there are good wingers here – I watched the game last week and saw Matt Jess score two tries. My spot is not going to be given to me and that’s what I love about the English Premiership, you know you have to prove yourself to get your spot.”

One man hoping to bring the best out of Nadolo on the big stage is Chiefs’ assistant coach Ali Hepher, who has welcomed his arrival. However, Hepher warned breaking into the Exeter starting XV will be no formality, stating: “With the guys performing that well it’s going to be tough for anyone coming in, but he’s got qualities to bring to the club.

“It will be great to work with him one-on-one, there are certain things we can hopefully improve straight away, but he also brings massive assets to the table.”
 

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