A fair few in the crowd of around 5000 at BT Murrayfield on Friday evening probably turned up in the hope of seeing a dynamic performance from an Edinburgh back-row forward who could, on the same patch of ground, make a significant difference the following weekend, and they duly did so.

They were, however, denied seeing the best of Blade Thomson, the latest New Zealander with bloodlines that have allowed his grand-parents’ homeland to recruit him, but who was carried off after being knocked senseless very early in the match.

Instead it was the now familiar figure of Viliami ‘Bill’ Mata who was at his game-breaking best, scoring two tries and making another in an excellent bonus-point win over Thomson’s Scarlets as he added to his burgeoning reputation.

Having made his name by winning an Olympic sevens gold medal with Fiji, the No.8 has established his 15-a-side credentials as the X-factor figure in a fast-improving Edinburgh team.

Last season there were hints of what he is capable of, but now exposed to the full scrutiny and planning of head coach Richard Cockerill, Mata reckons he is in the best condition of his life, explaining that: “I came in late last year because my visa application was held up. This year, the strength and conditioning programme put together by Edinburgh Rugby has been perfect for me and that’s why I’m playing better.”

Part of the problem facing Scotland is that, whereas Edinburgh’s opponents know that they have to pay particular attention to Mata, the No.8 is just one of a team full of dynamic athletes that Scotland will have to cope with, while he can tell them exactly what will confront them on Saturday and is personally relishing the challenge.

“The hardest tacklers at Edinburgh . . . for me that would be Hamish Watson and Stuart McInally, easy, but I won’t be avoiding them. You have to play against them if they’re there,” he observed.

Mata made his first appearances for his country in a campaign which ultimately tainted Gregor Townsend’s first tour as head coach last summer, but having come off the bench against both Australia and in Fiji’s narrow win over Italy, he missed their subsequent thrashing of Scotland through injury, so is set to make his first appearance against the country in which he now makes his living on the pitch he has played on more than any other, albeit in a very different environment.

“Murrayfield is a home ground to me, I’ve played a lot of my rugby there. I’ve told the boys here that it’s a great place to play rugby, a great stadium and a great pitch,” he said.

“It’s not that full when we play, but I was there to watch Scotland play England and it was fully packed, obviously. It will be an amazing experience to play in that kind of atmosphere, to play Scotland at home.”

It will, however, be an odd occasion for him, occupying the away dressing room while players he now knows much better are across the corridor, having offered his compatriots as much information as he can to address their lack of time together.

“At the moment, we’re just reviewing our game because we haven’t played together since last June,” said Mata.

“Because of that, we’re keeping everything short and simple and looking to make a good start to our November Tests. It will be a little strange for me, because there are a lot of Edinburgh boys and plenty of Glasgow players, in the Scotland team, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and I know it is a big challenge, especially playing against the Edinburgh boys.

“We’ve got a good squad together for this series. We need to make a good start.”

While history suggests that is unlikely and that Scotland should have a huge advantage in terms of both the time they have been together and in having played a Test last weekend while their next opponents still had club commitments all over Europe, Mata claims the Fijians are more prepared this time to perform at their best at the very start of their international window.

“It was important for Fiji to beat Scotland back home, but to come here and win would be different, it would keep our November tour alive,” he said.

“In the past, we’ve maybe started our tours a bit slow. This year, we’ve worked really hard on making a quicker start and that means being ready for Scotland.”

“We’re all professional rugby players. So, when we come into camp for a week, it’s just a mental thing. People switch on, play the game the way that we love. It’s easy once you get here.

“Maybe you could say that, because of our style, it isn’t as hard for us to come together and get ready for a Test.”

As compared with sevens, where there is so much more scope to express themselves freely, a lack of resources and consequent time together has prevented Fiji from fulfilling their potential in XVs, making this trip all the more important and having also had time together in a training camp in Toulouse, they believe they can make discernible progress in the course of November

“We have Uruguay in Gloucester and then France,” said Mata.

“It would be an achievement to get into the top eight, we’re tenth right now, but we have to focus on Scotland first. We’re trying to build a team for the World Cup, get everything we can from this November tour.

“We don’t play together again until June, after this tour. It’s just about being mentally right. We’re all professional rugby players, we just need a week together to sort everything out.”