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News Archive > Sport > International star ‘loves’ Newquay life

International star ‘loves’ Newquay life

By Tom Howe 10th February 2021

International star ‘loves’ Newquay life

Josh Matavesi has played at the very top level of rugby, representing Bath in European competition and Fiji at World Cups, but now embarks on a new chapter as he sets up home in Newquay, writes Tom Howe.

Matavesi, now 30, met wife, Anna, during their time studying at Truro College with the pair later leaving the Duchy upon the utility back signing for Exeter Chiefs.

After time spent in Paris, Worcester, Swansea and Newcastle, the Matavesis returned last year after a decade away, with the former Fiji international jumping at the opportunity to return to West Country rugby with Premiership giants, Bath. The move provided the couple with a chance to settle their young family back in Cornwall, a county Camborne-raised Matavesi says he was ‘lucky to have grown up in’.

When not commuting to play elite rugby for Bath, Matavesi spends his time supporting local businesses, as well as providing attack consultancy for the Cornish Pirates and collaborating with a local strength and conditioning coach.

“I love being in Newquay, it is such a great little town,” he told the Voice. “I like being at home and going to normal shops, going to Sainsbury’s and to Crantock and the Gannell with the dog and the kids. If I have consecutive days’ training in Bath, I will jump in the car straight after and be home by six having dinner and putting the kids to bed. I might nip down to Spar for a treat after.

“Anna’s family have lived in Newquay their whole life. [While we lived away] we would always head back to hers. They have a house right on the beach at Fistral so it was perfect.

[After playing for Racing in Paris], moving to Worcester was tough because we didn’t get a lot of wins but we were close to home.

“It was only a couple of hours’ drive and we were back in Cornwall. It is where I am most comfortable and is where you will find me. The Bath move couldn’t have been better for my family and I because now my kids are in Newquay and at school.

“They are in clubs and my wife has been able to reconnect with her friends after ten years. It has just worked. Bath understand I like to spend as much time as I can with my family and are helpful in giving me time off in the mornings or helping with my recovery.

“I am starting to get to know the locals a lot better. I am just a normal guy who likes helping the community out.

“I have built relationships with the little shops opening up, like Basket for example, Cornish Lunchbox and Taylor Made Tempura. They are run by fantastic people who, through hard times, are trying to make things work. I love supporting the likes of them as well as Jam Jar and Kapow Fitness.”

Raised in a ‘rugby mad family’, Matavesi played for Camborne from the age of four until his late teens when he represented Mount’s Bay and Truro College before forming part of the Exeter Chiefs side that sealed promotion to the Premiership for the very first time in 2010.

It was then that Matavesi left Cornwall, helping French-based Top 14 side Racing earn automatic European Champions Cup qualification before returning to the Premiership with Worcester Warriors. A three-year stint at Swansea-based PRO14 side Ospreys was followed by another return to the English top flight with Newcastle Falcons, losing 36-5 to the Chiefs in the 2017-18 play-off semi-final.

Matavesi, who moved onto Bath in January 2020, added to five Fiji under-20 caps with  23 appearances for the full side, including appearances at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, the latter of which he was joined in the squad by younger brother, Sam.

“Growing up we were always playing rugby, cricket, football or out surfing,” said Matavesi. “Whatever sport was on the TV, we would compete with each other to see who was the best. You don’t see it when you are younger, but having that freedom to go to the beach and all the outdoor space you have available [in Cornwall], we were very privileged. 

“I am really proud of my background. I love being Cornish. I never say that I am English because I don’t feel that way. I am really proud to come from the area and it inspires me because I know there are a lot of boys and girls who aspire to be professional athletes. If they can see someone from their area at the highest level, hopefully it is a good opportunity for them to drive forward themselves and be successful.

“When you step away from the bubble you are in, you do get to see how hard it is to live in Cornwall. There is quite a lot of poverty, not just in Newquay but Camborne as well. Camborne is one of the most deprived areas in Europe and that is where I was brought up.

“Me and my brothers do make a conscious effort to stay involved in the local community. Coming to the back end of my career, I want to drive that. If you have belief and good people around you then anything is possible. I have next season at Bath as well and the option of an extra two but we will see. That is a very long time away.

“For me, I quite like enjoying the moment and not getting too hyped up or down about what might be. I quite enjoy being at home. Newquay is where I see my future. What I am going to do, I am not sure but it will definitely be in Newquay.”

By Tom Howe 10th February 2021

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