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Talei enjoying back row battles

Guinness PRO12 Editor

13 Jan 2012

Fijian forward Netani Talei is relishing the battle for the Edinburgh No. 8 shirt as he prepares to face Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup tonight.

Despite languishing in the RaboDirect PRO12 table, the Gunners head to France hoping to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup for the first time since 2004.

And the 28-year-old feels his duel with Stuart McInally for a place in the pack has dramatically improved his game.

He told The Scotsman: “I know that Stuart was playing in front of me but when he was given a week off I came onto the scene and thought ‘this is my chance, I have to grab it’.

 “It is helping me perform better as a player and I am learning things from the young boys as well. They bring in new ideas and I take on board what can make me a better player.

“Stuart has a good rugby brain and puts himself in spaces where he gets the ball. I am different. I go for balls and if I don’t get it I lose confidence, whereas with ball in hand I am happy.”

Talei will hope to see plenty of the ball tonight as Edinburgh aim for the win that would put them top of Pool Two, with London Irish hosting Cardiff Blues tomorrow.

And the Fijian feels that tonight’s game represents a huge moment in his side’s season.

He said: “We have done really well to get where we are, but the Heineken Cup is a different ball game altogether.

“You have to bring your A game because one mistake and you get hammered and they score tries off you.

“For myself, this has to be one of the best rugby games of my career. It has to be my A game.

“This is one of the defining moments of Edinburgh rugby and we have to bring everything to the table.”