Scarlets bring in speedster Iongi
October 22, 2011
Iongi has seven tries in nine games for Tonga © Getty Images
The Scarlets have bolstered their ranks with the signing of Tongan speedster Viliame Iongi on a long-term deal.
The winger turned out for Tonga against the All Blacks, Canada and France during their 2011 World Cup campaign appearing in the same side as fellow Scarlets new boy Sione Timani. Iongi hit the headlines in June when he crossed the line four times for Tonga in their Churchill Cup clash with the USA.
And it was this eye-catching performance which led Scarlets boss Nigel Davies to pursue the 22-year-old's signature and bring him to the Parc Y Scarlets. "We are delighted Viliame Iongi is joining us - I think he will give us an exciting new dimension," Davies said. "Along with Sione Timani, we've now secured some new strike players in key positions who will help anchor our squad as well as add to the dynamic and energy in our team - which in turn, will have a positive influence in bringing on younger players in our squad.
"He is certainly an exciting prospect for us and his attacking ability will fit in with the style and brand of rugby we seek to play. He's impressed with his pace and will provide us with some new options."
With the likes of George North, Rhys Priestland and Scott Williams all shining for Wales at the World Cup, Davies is adamant he will not turn his back on home-grown talent. He said: "Our firm vision and commitment is to bring forward our own talent - investing in our young players and giving them chances at the highest level with full support from within our rugby environment.
"That's done with the support of our feeder clubs in the Premiership who work closely with us on our pathway and do an excellent job in supporting our ethos and the development of young players."
And Iongi is looking forward to joining the likes of North and Priestland as the Scarlets go in search of Europe's top honours. Iongi said: "It's is a great opportunity for me and as my first professional rugby contract, I'm now going to get the chance to play in Europe and hope the way I play will fit in well with their style.
"I'm looking forward to being part of such a professional set-up and will give it everything I can. The Scarlets play great rugby and I'm looking forward to being part of the team."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.
"I think the work I do in defence gets spoken of a little too much as it comes at the expense of what I do in attack." Brad Barritt talks to Tom Hamilton
The European Champions Cup: what's changed and what's new in the revamped competition previously known as the Heineken Cup?