Magician Matawalu caps his incredible year with player-of season award

NIKO MATAWALU today described being voted as Glasgow Warriors Player of the Season as a great honour.

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Niko Matawalu with his award after ceremony at Hilton hotel in Glasgow
Niko Matawalu with his award after ceremony at Hilton hotel in Glasgow

The Fijian has been a revelation since joining Glasgow on the first pro contract of his career last summer.

Having scored seven tries in just 15 appearances for Warriors, and produced some of the most flamboyant individual rugby seen in a Glasgow shirt, it was no surprise Matawalu was the winner of the award which was voted for via Twitter by the club's supporters.

The scrum-half beat off competition from Ryan Grant, Ryan Wilson and DTH van der Merwe to land the award, with another new recruit, South African back row Josh Strauss, understood to have been a close second.

After receiving the award from Alan Frizzell, from award sponsor Famous Grouse, at the Hilton Hotel last night, the 24-year-old spoke exclusively to SportTimes of his joy at being voted fans' favourite.

The man, known simply as Niko to the Scotstoun faithful, said: "Its a great honour for me to receive this award in my first season in Glasgow and I'd like to thank all the supporters who voted for me.

"I'm really enjoying my rugby just now and I feel that I've improved a lot since I came here.

"Everything at Glasgow is very professional and that has helped me develop my game over the last few months. We're a very close squad, just like a big family!

"Already I have had some unbelievable moments in a Glasgow shirt and shared moments with the fans I will never forget. I hope to enjoy many more special times with them."

There have been so many highs that British Lions and Scotland legend Gavin Hastings claimed in SportTimes on Tuesday made Matawalu the best signing in Northern Hemisphere club rugby this term.

It could be argued the lightning strike against Ospreys last time out, which did much to nail down Warriors' PRO12 play-off berth, was the pick of the Polynesian's bunch.

Then there was the brace of tries against Cardiff that culminated in a celebration run that saw Matawalu vault an advertising board and end up somewhere behind the west stand.

But it has been the Fijian's infectious exuberance, almost as much as his dexterity with ball in hand, that has so endeared him to the Warriors hordes, the skies around Scotstoun regularly filled with the home crowd's cry of "Niko, Niko," every other Friday night. Indeed, the man himself found it hard to highlight one particular moment of magic above any other.

Matawalu said: "There have been many highlights, such as the wins over Northampton, Ulster, Munster and Ospreys at Scotstoun. I enjoy scoring tries for the team and to have touched down seven times is fantastic.

"Maybe the try against Ospreys was good, but I enjoy every time I score a try in a Glasgow shirt and especially when it is at Scotstoun. But the most important thing is that the team win."

With next Friday's trip to Connacht, in the regulation season finale, next up for Gregor Townsend's men, there is still plenty of work to be done.

Matawalu said: "We were very happy to secure our play-off spot last week, but we're not thinking about that game yet because we've got a big game in Ireland to prepare for first.

"We know that if we win that game against Connacht and other results go our way we could still get a home semi-final and that is a big motivation for all of us.

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