Tigers swoop for Tongan star

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 20:46
Large sione kalamafoni 800

NEWS: Highly-regarded Tonga international back row forward Sione Kalamafoni headlined a quartet of signings for English Premiership giants Leicester Tigers.

The 29-year-old - a veteran of two World Cups in 2011 and 2015 - joined from rivals Gloucester and is reunited with head coach Matt O'Connor, who spent time coaching with Tonga last year.

Joining Kalamafoni are Irish back row forward Dominic Ryan, who signs from Irish province Leinster, and Joe Ford, who will team up with his brother England international George, and Jonah Holmes, both moving from second tier Yorkshire Carnegie.

"Sione is a strong and powerful ball-carrier from the back row," O'Connor told the club website.

"That physical presence on both sides of the ball is something we have been looking to add to our squad and he comes into a very competitive back-row group with us."

Kalamafoni, who was man of the match when Tonga beat eventual finalists France in their 2011 World Cup pool game, made over 100 appearances for Gloucester since he joined for the 2012/13 campaign from Nottingham.

"I have had five enjoyable seasons with Gloucester but it is now time for a new challenge in my career and I'm delighted to be able to sign for Leicester Tigers," said Kalamafoni, who was Gloucester players' player of the season and Gloucester coaches' player of the season for the 2015/2016 season.

Ryan, 27 and capped once playing against Georgia in 2014, made 113 appearances for Leinster since his debut in 2009, scoring 18 tries.

"Dom is an experienced professional who plays all across the back row," said O'Connor, who knows Ryan well having coached Leinster from 2013 to 2015.

"He wins collisions on both sides of the ball and comes from an environment that understands the narrative of winning."

Ford and Holmes will arrive on the back of superb campaigns in the second tier having been the top points and try scorer respectively during The Championship's regular season.

Agence France-Presse

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