Tui trades Chiefs for Lyon

Wed, 08 Jan 2014 17:10
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Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has confirmed that tighthead prop Hoani Tui is to leave the Premiership club at the end of the season.

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has confirmed that tighthead prop Hoani Tui is to leave the Premiership club at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old will join Lyon, the current leaders of Pro D2, on a two-year deal after five seasons playing for the Chiefs in both the Championship and the Premiership.

Signed from Italian outfit Calvisano in 2010, the popular Kiwi forward has to date played 109 times for the Chiefs in all competitions, scoring six tries in the process.

A cornerstone of the Exeter pack since his arrival in Devon, Tui not only helped the Chiefs to get promoted out of the Championship during his first season at the club, but he has since impressed many with his displays in both the English top flight and Europe.

His displays during the 2011/12 season were particularly notable as he was named Players' Player of the Year in the club's end-of-season awards.

Commenting on the news, Baxter said: "It's like anything, he has been a great player for us over the years. He was one of those guys that came in during that first Championship year when we got promoted and he's only really known success since he has been here.

"I have no problem with a player moving on for positive reasons. Hoani is moving on - not because we don't want him to stay - but more that a very good French club is prepared to offer him a very good contract.

“He has been a great player for us, he's a good guy around the place and he's continued to perform very well for us even since we knew he was going to leave.

"For me it's not a negative when a very good player who has done so many good things for you gets offered a good contract elsewhere.

“It's nice that we want to keep him and that other clubs want him, I don't have a problem with that. Hoani has been a great servant for the club and I've no doubt he will continue to be until the end of this season. After which we wish him all the best for the future."

Tui himself admits opting to leave the Chiefs was "one of the toughest decisions" he has had to make in his life.

"Choosing to leave the Chiefs wasn't easy, it was probably one of the toughest decisions I've had to make," he said. "Obviously moving to France is going to be a new challenge for me, but it's one that I am looking forward to.

"Before then I have work to do here in Exeter and I want to make sure I leave the club on a high. Since I arrived it's been an amazing time, both on and off the field, and the club have come so far in such a short space of time.

"The group of lads we have here are pretty special and this club is certainly one of a kind. I don't think you could go anywhere in the world and find a squad that is as together as we are here. For sure I'll miss all of that, but I'll also have plenty of memories to look back on."

The New Zealand Maori was also quick to pay tribute to the support he has received from the club's coaches, staff and supporters during his time in Devon.

"People like Rob [Baxter], Ali [Hepher], all the coaches they've been brilliant and they've really brought my game on immensely," added Tui.

"That support, together with all the fans who seem to go everywhere with us, I won't forget any of that. The Chiefs have been a big part of my life and I've no doubt it will remain so in the future.

“As I said, I'm sad to be moving on but this is a good opportunity for me and my family."