London Welsh add bulk
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:04
The toughest domestic competitions in world rugby
Tonga international prop forward Eddie Aholelei has become London Welsh's latest addition, joining the Exiles from the Melbourne Rebels.
Aholelei, 32, scored a try on his international debut against Japan in 2013 and has gone on to win six caps for Tonga, including two appearances in last month's Pacific Nations Cup as well as starting against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in November.
He'll link up at London Welsh with Tonga teammate, and fellow prop, Taione Vea.
At 1.9m and 123kg, Aholelei is a physical and tenacious prop who can play loosehead or tighthead.
Auckland-born of Tongan heritage, he moved to Sydney as a teenager and between 2001-2013 made over 200 first-grade appearances for Manly Marlins in the Shute Shield.
His breakthrough came in 2011 when he joined the Melbourne Rebels on their European Tour. That same year he represented the Rebels' A team and the Australian Barbarians, while continuing to play for Manly in Sydney.
His perseverance and hard work was rewarded in 2012 with a Super Rugby debut against the Brumbies.
"Firstly I would like to thank London Welsh for giving me this opportunity. I am honoured and humbled to be heading to England to represent the Club in what is undoubtedly one of the toughest domestic competitions in world rugby, the Premiership," Aholelei said.
"I know London Welsh has a very proud history and I'm looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead, both on and off the field.
"The move represents a fantastic chance for me to enjoy a fresh start and for my family to experience a different country and culture.
"I am looking forward to meeting the boys, the Club staff and, of course, London Welsh's faithful supporters.”
London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said: "Eddie is a Tongan international and I watched him first hand against Wales in the autumn at the Millennium Stadium.
He's got Super Rugby experience, is a very big powerful man and is another excellent addition to our squad for next season.”
London Welsh have recently secured the services of All Black scrumhalf Piri Weepu as they look to make a mark on their return to the Premiership.
Lachlan McCaffrey is another Super Rugby acquisition from the Brumbies that the Welsh have secured recently.
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