FROM being on a career-defining high, a Cornish rugby player has tasted a gut-wrenching low this week.

Sam Matavesi played a full part in Fiji's rugby World Cup campaign in Japan, but has since been robbed of life-long memories.

While the Cornish Pirates star, from Helston, was staying overnight in London, his car was broken into and his Fiji shirts, medal, boots, training kit and personal belongings were stolen.

This is The West Country:

One of the items stolen from his car in London

Of all the missing items, however, there is one that leaves a particularly painful hole.

"I had been given a ball to warm-up with before the Wales game - all the hookers and kickers had one - and when I got back into the changing rooms, I kept it for my son Tiko," said Sam.

"I deflated the ball, which had Fiji vs Wales and the time, date and venue written on it. I put it in my bag so I could give it to him when I got home. It was the thing I most wanted to bring back, but now its gone."

The 27 year-old has since discovered that at least five or six cars were broken into at the NCP car park in Finsbury Square.

"They were obviously just looking for stuff that they could sell on quickly, but they're not going to be able to sell or pass on my things, because people will recognise them. It's most likely that they'll just throw it away, because it won't be any use to them. It's caused a lot of upset. There's not a lot I can do really."

The response on social media has been overwhelming, with people from across the globe sympathising and supporting Sam after hearing the sad news.

Read more: Returning World Cup star has treasured Fiji kit stolen

"It's been amazing. The reaction has been incredible, without people sharing it, it definitely wouldn't have got so big."

He added: "The whole experience of the World Cup has been incredible. I was in France for three months, then came home for five days, before going off to the World Cup to chase a dream.

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A smiling Sam warms up before the start of a World Cup match in Japan

"We spent two months as a squad in Fiji, playing warm-up games against Tonga, Samoa, Japan and an All Blacks side, then another two months in Japan. My wife and children came out to Fiji and my best friend and uncle were in Japan for the World Cup."

On returning home, both the Pirates and the Navy have given him some time off to spent with his family.

Sam's 29-year-old brother Josh, who was born in Camborne but now plays for Newcastle Falcons, was also in Fiji's World Cup squad.