Netani Talei shows his commitment to Dragons and Fiji
8:02pm Sunday 1st December 2013 in Sport
NATIONAL pride saw Newport Gwent Dragons number eight Netani Talei play two full games within 24 hours at the weekend.
The 30-year-old played the full 80 minutes of his region's bruising RaboDirect Pro12 encounter with Munster on Friday night and then turned out for Fiji in their clash with the Barbarians at Twickenham.
The Dragons needed Talei, who signed from Edinburgh last summer, against the league leaders as they were without Wales star Toby Faletau.
The Fijian produced a tremendous performance, carrying hard and setting up the only try of the game with a delightful pass to Matthew Pewtner.
But he didn't have time to dwell on a 18-14 defeat – the 27-times capped back row forward swiftly hot-footed it to London to join up with his international teammates.
Former Fiji captain Talei has not featured for his country this autumn after visa issues meant he couldn't travel to Portugal, Italy and Romania.
But his commitment to the cause meant he ignored the bumps and bruises to line up against the Baa Baas and the likes of Schalk Burger, Steven Luatua, Duane Vermeulen and Bismarck du Plessis.
The game, which was outside the IRB's Test window, marked Fiji's centenary and the Barbarians ran out 43-19 victors.
There will be no rest for Talei after another bruising encounter as his physical presence will be required by the Dragons, who need two wins from their Amlin Challenge Cup double-header against Bordeaux Begles.
A home victory at Rodney Parade on Friday would make the task an awful lot easier for the trip to the Stade André Moga where the French side have a formidable record.
They have enjoyed home successes against Toulouse, Top 14 champions Castres, Oyonnax, Bayonne and Stade Francais this season with Montpellier and Bath their only conquerors.
"Bordeaux are a tough side at home, that's for sure," said forwards coach Kingsley Jones.
"It's a help playing at Rodney Parade first and we all know that selection for the fourth group game is shaped by how things go in the third.
"We could knock them out if we get the result but it will be a tough challenge against big, strong, heavy players that will take us on up front."
The Dragons head into the game on the back of a frustrating defeat to Munster, who triumphed thanks to a pair of late Ian Keatley penalties.
"There were a lot of positives and our defence was excellent again, but it was an opportunity to beat a top side and back up a great win in Glasgow," said Jones.
"(At 11-3 up) we only needed to chip away with three-pointers but we forced things, it looked as though we were chasing a try.
"We didn't keep hold of the ball enough to apply pressure on Munster and force penalties. They are the masters of that and did that to us.
"We need to be smarter but we've come a long way in a short space of time. We were dominated by Munster's drive in September (when beaten 23-9 in Cork) and said we would improve, which we have.
"The lineout and scrum is definitely moving in the right direction."
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