EDINBURGH have signed Fijian Sevens star Mesulame Kunavula on a long-term deal. The 22-year-old, who can operate across the back-five of the scrum, has been in talks with the club since March, and links up with his new teammates immediately having finally got the paperwork sorted out.
“I’m delighted to start the next chapter of my career in Edinburgh. Viliame [Mata] is a good friend of mine and he has told me so much about the club and life in Scotland,” said Kunavula. “I’ve really enjoyed my time on the Sevens circuit, but I felt it was the right time to move abroad and develop my own game further. The facilities in Edinburgh are world class and I’m only going to improve as a player. I’m really looking forward to getting involved in pre-season and representing this club for the years to come.”
Head coach Richard Cockerill believes his latest recruit will add x-factor to the capital pack, starting during the World Cup window when there is a very good chance that Edinburgh will be without Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, John Barclay, Viliame Mata, Magnus Bradbury, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis.
“Mesu really stood out during his time representing Fiji on the Sevens circuit and his ability to beat a man, as well as offload in the tackle are really world class,” said Cockerill.
“We have been looking at adding players who offer something different – that bit of x-factor – and I certainly think Mesu brings that dynamic to an already talented squad.
“Like Bill before him, we’re really looking forward to seeing how he can develop in a 15’s environment and we’re really hopeful that he can be a big player for us in the seasons to come.”
Born in Tailevu – the same village in which Fijian teammate Mata was raised – the 6ft 3in playmaker joined the police force while representing Fiji U20 in the early stages of his career. He made his HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series debut at the 2016 Dubai leg where Fiji finished runners-up after falling short against South Africa in the final.
The back-row was named in the Fiji Sevens squad for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on Australia’s Gold Coast and finished the tournament with a silver medal as the South Sea Islanders were pipped by New Zealand. He was a key man as Fiji finished the 2018-19 Sevens Series in first place, winning five out of 10 tournaments.
Kunavula is the third Fijian Sevens star to have joined Mata at Edinburgh this year, with Eroni Sau and Kalione Nasoko putting pen to paper on deals back in March, although the the latter of those recruits is no longer coming to the club due to a serious knee issue.