NEWPORT Gwent Dragons powerhouse Netani Talei will have one thing on his mind when the ball comes his way on Sunday – smash into an old pal.
The Fijian number eight locks horns with his former club Edinburgh in the RaboDirect Pro12 encounter at Rodney Parade (kick-off 1.05pm) and the Dragons will be looking for Talei to be at the heart of their efforts to win the collisions in the absence of Wales and Lions star Toby Faletau.
The dynamic back row forward hopes that his former colleagues will be moving a little gingerly when they catch up after the game.
“I’ve been looking forwards to this,” said the 30-year-old. “It’s always good to be on the field playing against your old teammates.
“You want to dominate in every aspect of the game and feel proud knowing that you’ve done good for your team and smashed your old one.
“I can’t wait, I want to put in big tackles and hopefully run over a few of them as well.
“My main focus is to just get us over the gain line no matter what; to get us on the front foot and our backs into the game.
“And in defence I hope whoever comes down my channel knows what’s coming!”
Talei has done well since moving to Rodney Parade in the summer, making 16 appearances either at number eight or, when Faletau is around, at blindside.
His first start for the region was in Edinburgh when his former employers sneaked a 16-13 win with the last kick and, while he is pleased to be a Dragon, there remains a lingering frustration at the manner of his Murrayfield exit.
“When I left there I was told it was because they wanted more Scottish players but then they brought in a lot of South Africans,” he said.
“But I don’t regret moving to the Dragons. Everything in life has made me stronger, I learn from the negatives and hopefully become a better person.
“So far, so good here. I have been getting a lot of game time and have been enjoying my rugby.
“I’ve been playing my style of rugby rather than being in a box being told to do this and that like I was in Edinburgh.
“When I wear the Dragons jersey I wear it with pride and look to help my team to the best of my ability.
“I don’t look back. Yes, I am friends with Edinburgh players off the field but it’s about me and my Dragons boys on it.”