The pains of his profession, the lingering consequences of illness, are immediately rejected. His eyes light up.
& # 39; My first rugby ball? That is a story. & # 39; The face breaks into the kind of smile that illuminates a winter in Glasgow.
& # 39; I was blessed that my father bought me a ball for me. It was so expensive. It was very unusual to have one. A privilege & # 39 ;, says Nikola Matawalu, also known as Niko, and as the kind of rugby player that seems to have the infallible talent to inject spectators with a shock of adrenaline.
Niko Matawalu's displays led him to become McCrea Financial Services Player of the Month
& # 39; In Fiji you play rugby as soon as you can walk, but a ball was very rare when I was young & # 39 ;, he says about his homeland, where rugby is a mandatory lifestyle rather than just a sport.
& # 39; But I will tell you the story of the ball. My father had been a military officer, but he was then a padre. I would miss the church every Sunday to play rugby. My father would beat me, give me rows.
& # 39; But then he said to me one day: & # 39; Here is a rugby ball. You come to church on Sunday. But you can play with the ball on Monday. "& # 39;
The Fijian winger is a favorite with Glasgow Warriors for his electrical displays
Sunday became a day of rest and religion. Rugby was the article of faith for the rest of the week. & # 39; You should know that rugby is just the culture in Fiji & # 39 ;, says Matawalu who at 29 has dedicated his professional life to the sport.
& # 39; When you start running, you start playing. Simple. It is something that is there. Only there. Just do it. Nobody teaches you.
& # 39; Sometimes we used a bottle as a ball. We would put a little bit of water in it to give it some weight. We also used a ball of paper tied with plastic strips. And yes, it is true, we would play with a dry coconut. It was everything that we could throw.
& # 39; Everyone wanted to play. These are my early memories of life – playing Fiji touch. All pro clubs are playing it now. We just called it. If you were touched when you had the ball, you lost possession. You went to the beach or to the river to play. It was a simple scheme. It was playing rugby when you had the chance.
& # 39; I loved to play with the big boys. My older brother was 11 years older than me, but I played with him and my other brother, my cousin, my friends. It was every afternoon. & # 39;
Matawalu revealed that he grew up playing rugby with everything he could find, including a coconut
Matawalu is now a Glasgow Warrior. He dives into a room in Scotstoun after a team meeting, sincerely glad he has been elected the McCrea Financial Services Player of the month and is relieved that a disease that prevented him from training is over, even though he has excluded him from the crucial European Champions Cup tomorrow's game against Cardiff Blues.
Deprived of an intense focus on a big game, Matawalu can instead reflect on a life that is infused with rugby, but other important ingredients, especially his past as a member of the Fijian navy, his duties as a human being and his responsibilities as a father.
His back bounce was fast. At the age of 11 he played for the team of the thirteen-year-old team and he reached the ranks to the national side. After training at the Suva Academy he joined the navy, patrolled the waters around Fiji and played for the service. It had an effect on his career.
Matwalu is in his second spell with the Warriors and also played for Bath and Exeter Chiefs
& # 39; First I have been training hard in the three years that I was in the Navy & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; But secondly, I was not allowed to play in Australia because of the diplomatic row after the coup in Fiji in 2006. As a soldier I could not go there. & # 39;
His life changed in 2012. "Scotland came to play and I was blessed to become the man of the competition," he says.
& # 39; After the game I went through my recovery routine and I was in the pool when someone came in and handed me a phone. Gregor (Townsend, then coach with Warriors and assistant trainer in Scotland) was at stake. He told me: "We are going to do everything to bring you here." & # 39;
Matawalu soon landed in Glasgow.
& # 39; All people said it was crazy, but I did not bother, & # 39; he says. & # 39; I looked this way. It was a door that opened and the opportunity only comes once. I love to experience different cultures and that is why I grew up as a rugby player and as a person. & # 39;
Despite the cold conditions that welcomed him, Matawalu was not hit by Scotland
The interview then becomes a story by three Nikos. The first is his father, the padre.
& # 39; You must try to understand everyone. You have to open up, talk to different people, says Niko the second, the rugby player.
& # 39; My father told me this before he died seven years ago: if you go somewhere else, you have to enjoy the place, then you have to love the food and thirdly, you have to enjoy everything every day.
& # 39; You can not feel homesick if you do this. I came along with no one, no family. But the people here are fantastic and I love them. & # 39;
He wanders around Scotstoun and his home in the West End and calls everyone & # 39; baby & # 39; s & # 39 ;.
He grins: & # 39; It relaxes everyone. You do not know how someone's day is, how they are. You must be open and friendly. My personality is that I do not pretend to be who. I'm just myself. & # 39;
Matawalu has been embraced by Scots with a roar of anticipation around Scotstoun when he touches the ball.
The 29-year-old lives in the West End of the city and refers to his friends and family as babies & # 39; s & # 39;
& # 39; It is something special that I have in Scotland. This is like my second home. I would consider staying here after I retired, although my wife wants to return to Fiji, "he says.
So why is Glasgow special for a player who has performed all over the world and in club rugby with Bath and Exeter Chiefs?
& # 39; It's the people. The city is also beautiful, but it is the people. It was my first period away from home and they made welcome. That was so important. & # 39;
The generous Matawalu, however, was initially a training for rugby players who was attuned to specific gameplans, but he now claims that he has refined his game to meet the reality of the modern game.
& # 39; No, there are no difficulties in following tactics & # 39 ;, says the player who now operates mainly on the wing instead of on the scrum half.
& # 39; The game plan is there, but in sport you have to play what is in front of you. If you see the hole, use it. You can not be stupid about this. You have to play in the moment. & # 39;
This philosophy tells how he looks at his career.
& # 39; I plan every day. I achieve more when I focus and set goals every day. I have tried the other way to find a career plan for the long term, but it is better in the day. It is simpler. You never know in rugby, "he says.
& # 39; But family life is different. You have responsibilities, so you must have a plan. & # 39;
Matawalu maintains that he has ruled in the nonconformist approach to comply with modern games
He believes in God and still goes to church.
& # 39; I went with New Year and some Sundays there is a church near me and I sometimes walk there. It is something that is put in you when you are young. It has remained with me. & # 39;
The other religion of rugby has also stayed with him.
Yes, I still love it and I want to pass it on to my children. & # 39;
This sentence is the appearance in conversation of the third Niko, his son of 26 months.
"I have another boy, Cassius, who is six months old, but he is clearly too young to play with a ball," he says.
But Niko, the third, has already made an impression on his father.
& # 39; He is good & # 39 ;, he says laughing. & # 39; But he mainly plays football. I first gave him the rugby ball and he messed up his face. But now he plays with both. I wish my father was here to see this. & # 39;
Niko, the first, survives in the legacy of the rugby ball. It is the pass that has spanned more than two decades and runs through three generations. There is still energy in it.