Ratuniyarawa: It's a blessing to reach 100 appearances at Saints
Api Ratuniyarawa says it will be 'a blessing' to reach 100 Saints appearances on Saturday.
The Fiji lock is ready to make it to the milestone against Wasps in front of 4,000 fans at Franklin's Gardens.
And he said: "It's a huge achievement for me, for my career.
"I think it's a blessing to be able to reach this milestone.
"When I came here in 2016, I wouldn't have dreamt to play 100 games for the Saints and I'm really honoured that I'm able to do it.
"I thank the coaches and I thank the S&C guys for looking after me - they really helped me out with me game and looked after my body well to help me to play well."
Ratuniyarawa arrived at Saints from Agen in 2016 and has become a hugely popular member of the squad.
Not only that, but he has delivered plenty on the field, too.
"I saw an opportunity to come here and become a better rugby player," Ratuniyarawa said.
"The level of competition in the Premiership was one thing that excited me to come over here.
"There was some good competition in the second row as well, so to be able to come here and compete and to be given a chance to play and reach this milestone is huge for me.
"I'm really honoured with it."
So what parts of his game have improved?
"For me, my attacking game and my ball-carrying are a couple of the things that have really improved, and my defensive work too," he explained.
"Fitness-wise, I've lost quite a bit of weight - the S&C guys have really helped me in getting me right for the weekend, for every game, and I think my fitness has really improved.
"That's helped my game because the level of competition in the Premiership is just getting tougher every time, so you have to be fit and you have to be in a better condition if you are going to be able to compete."
Ratuniyarawa is delighted that he will be able to celebrate his century in front of fans as the Gardens welcomes supporters for the first time since December.
"I think it's really massive for us to have the fans back here with us this Saturday," said the 34-year-old.
"There's no better time to have the fans back for me and Alex Waller (who will make his 300th Saints appearance), to be able to reach milestones in our career, it's a big boost for us and it's a big boost for the team to have the fans back and our families in here.
"I think it also gives us something to play for and I hope that we can finish on a high with the games that we have left this season."
Saints have lost their past two matches, against Gloucester and Newcastle.
And Ratuniyarawa said: "It's been really disappointing for us as a group.
"Coming into those two games, I think they were the games that we really wanted to win to put us in a better place to compete for the top four and to lose those two games was really disappointing for us.
"The next three games are quite important for us, so we just have to give our best now because we all want to play for each other and play for the fans that are going to be here.
"We also want to be in the Champions Cup next year, so that's something else we will be aiming to get into a better position for next season."
Saints will face a Wasps side capable of playing free-flowing rugby.
"It's going to be a big challenge this week, against Wasps," Ratuniyarawa said.
"They are a team that's also pushing for a Champions Cup spot for next year, so it will be a big game for us and I know they'll be coming fired up.
"We want to play these last three games to the best of our abilities, we want to win these three games, so it's going to be a huge challenge for us."
Saints survived a second-half scare to win at Wasps back in February.
And Ratuniyarawa said: "That was a game that we could have lost at the end.
"We had a very decent first half and then we just didn't do well in the second half, but luckily we came away with a win.
"We're expecting a big challenge again this week and I think we have to react to it and be better with what we are doing in the whole game.
"If we do that well, then I think we'll have a good chance on Saturday."