London Irish sign rugby league star Setaimata Sa


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The Independent Online

London Irish have announced the signing of Catalan Dragons rugby league star Setaimata Sa on a three-year deal.

New Zealand league international Sa, who can play at centre or in the back row, began his career with Sydney City Roosters in 2006, moving to Super League outfit Catalan four years later.

Sa, 24, has also won five caps in rugby league for Samoa.

Sa will link up with Aviva Premiership club Irish for next season after the Exiles identified him as an ideal replacement for the outstanding Seilala Mapusua, who left them last year.

Sa, a New Zealand union schoolboy international, said: "I am really excited about joining London Irish.

"Returning to rugby union is something that I have been considering for a while. It has always been in my blood and testing my skills in the Aviva Premiership will be the ultimate challenge.

"The style of rugby that the Exiles play, and the family values of the club suit me and my family well.

"I am looking forward to getting down to it in the summer and I hope to be able to make an immediate positive impact."

Irish rugby director Brian Smith has expressed his delight that the club have swooped for a player he believes will make a considerable impact.

"There is no doubt about it - Setaimata is an exciting and wonderfully skilful player and we are delighted that he will be joining the squad next season.

"I have followed his NRL and Super League career very closely, and he was coached at the Roosters by my good friend and current New South Wales State of Origin coach, Richy Stuart.

"We have needed to replace Seilala Mapusua in midfield for some time now, and Sa fits the bill perfectly.

"He is an outstanding defender and a powerful runner with great physical and technical abilities.

"Still just 24 years old, he already brings with him a wealth of international and top-flight rugby experience, as well as winning a Rugby League World Cup for New Zealand. We think he is going to take the Aviva Premiership by storm."

Sa becomes Irish's seventh new signing for next term, when he will join the likes of Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, Leicester lock George Skivington and Gloucester hooker Scott Lawson at the Madejski Stadium.