All Black Saili joins Harlequins

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:16
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TRANSFER NEWS: All Black centre Francis Saili has signed a contract with Premiership club the Harlequins from Munster.

Saili joins Harlequins from Pro12 side Munster Rugby, spending two seasons in the Province after three years playing for the Blues in Super Rugby.

In 2013, Saili was capped twice by the All Blacks, debuting against Argentina in the Rugby Championship before facing Japan in Tokyo. He also represented the Barbarians in 2014, in a match against Australia at Twickenham Stadium.  

Saili was part of the victorious New Zealand side that won the 2011 Under-20 Junior World Championship. He started in the final against England playing alongside Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Charles Piutau and Beauden Barrett.

After representing Auckland in provincial rugby, Saili made his Super Rugby debut for the Blues in 2012. In his three seasons with the Blues, he scored seven tries in 42 appearances.

A move to Munster followed in 2015 where Saili's nine tries in 40 appearances helped the Province to the 2016/17 Pro12 Final after finishing top of the standings in the regular season.

He is a pacy and exciting centre, with exceptional running skills and a deceptive step. The utility back also has the ability to operate on the wing.

Commenting on the news Harlequins Director of Rugby, John Kingston, said: "I am absolutely delighted to confirm that Francis is joining Harlequins on a long-term contract.

"He is a high class, quality player who is comfortable at either 12 or 13.

"Alongside his obvious talent, he will help balance the squad further by being available for us all season, which is just as important, given our ambitions as a club.

"Francis is an extremely exciting signing who I know our fans will really enjoy watching,"

Saili added: "It’s been a privilege of mine to be part of Munster Rugby for the last two seasons, however, the opportunity that lies ahead to be a part of a prestigious club like Harlequins is a great honour.

"I’m looking forward to a new challenge in the Premiership under the direction of the coaches and alongside my new team. Harlequins has a rich heritage and strong tradition and I look forward to being part of an ongoing legacy which the Club continues to uphold.

"From my first conversation with John Kingston there was the reassurance needed for my partner and I that the move to Harlequins would be the step in the right direction going forward for my career overseas. I believe the influence of Harlequins as an organisation will continue to grow and improve my game,"

The 26-year-old joins Demetri Catrakilis, Renaldo Bothma, Dave Lewis, Phil Swainston, Lewis Boyce and Josh McNulty as Harlequins' new recruits for the 2017/18 season.

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