New Zealander Nepia Fox-Matamua, is exactly one month into life at Connacht Rugby after arriving in Galway at the end of June.

We checked in with the 23-year-old former Auckland player to see how he is finding life in his new home.

“I’d never been in Europe, never mind Ireland, so it was a big move. I was prepping for another ITM season when Pat (Lam) phoned me up. At first I thought someone was pulling my leg but after chatting to him for a bit I soon found out that Connacht were looking for a loose forward and to add some depth to that position.

“I didn’t have to think about it too much. I did some research and found out a bit more about the club and the vision they had, where they wanted to go. I spoke to Jake (Heenan) and Tom (McCartney) and they had nothing but positive things to say.”

Even about the weather?

“Despite being told again and again to prepare for the worst weather-wise, when I arrived in to Shannon Airport a month ago, the sun was shining and I was impressed. But the boys told me not to get too used to it and being here a month now I’ve noticed how people talk about the weather a lot and that it really is completely unpredictable!”

“But all the boys have been so welcoming. From the start, they were keen to lend a hand where they could, everything from accommodation to sharing their experiences on how they settled in.

There were a few familiar faces to greet Nepia when he arrived up to the Sportsground in June:

“I had had some interaction with Pat when I was a bit younger and coming through the Auckland Academy. He was with the Blues at that stage and we used to mix with them for training and games.

“Jake was in the academy with me as well before he left for Ireland. I played with Tom in Auckland and I played against Bundee a few times as well so it’s good to see them again.”

The Connacht squad have almost four weeks of pre-season training under their belt as preparations intensify for the first pre-season game against Grenoble on August 7th:

“Training-wise it was a little bit different at first to what I was used to. The first few weeks, we were doing two weights sessions a day which I had never done before.  It was demanding but I feel I’ve adjusted quickly over the last four weeks.

“I was doing pre-season with my club side but when I signed for Connacht in March I took a break to make sure I was in good shape to hit the ground running here.

“I’m really enjoying Connacht and Galway and I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in with the season.”

The 2015/16 Connacht Rugby season kicks off with a pre-season friendly against Grenoble on Friday August 7th at the Sportsground. Secure your ticket in the stands for the opener and all 14 home league and European games with a great-value Season Ticket.

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