Mapusua to quit London Irish
January 19, 2011
Mapusua has opted for a move to the Kubota Spears in Japan at the end of the season © Getty Images
London Irish have been dealt a significant blow with the news that inspirational centre Seilala Mapusua will leave the club at the end of the season.
The 30-year-old Samoan, who has been one of the stars of the Aviva Premiership since joining the Exiles from the Highlanders in 2006, is set to join the Kubota Spears in Japan. Arguably one of the most astute overseas signings in Premiership history, he played in the 2009 Premiership Final when Irish lost by a point to Leicester, and helped the Exiles reach a Heineken Cup semi-final appointment with Toulouse, also at Twickenham.
"I will be sad to leave London Irish, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and have made a lot of friends on and off the field," said Mapusua, who has so far made 111 appearances for Irish, and is a past winner of the prestigious Rugby Players' Association players' player of the year award. "I would like to thank everyone for the fantastic way they have treated me and my family. I would particularly like to thank the coaches for the opportunities they have given me and the supporters for always being behind me and the squad. We will truly miss London Irish.
"All this said there is still a little while before I go and there is still a job for me to do here between now and the end of the season. My priority right now is to do everything I can to help the team to finish in a top four position in the Premiership and end the season on a high."
London Irish head coach Toby Booth hailed Mapusua's contribution at the club, a time when he established himself among the outstanding backs in European rugby "We would like to thank Seilala for all of the hard work and effort he has put in during his time with us and wish him and his family all the best for the future. He has been a tremendous, committed servant to our club, an outstanding professional and an inspiration for any player on the field. Seilala is at a stage in his career where he needs to be thinking about his next steps and the future and we completely respect that.
"Whilst we are obviously disappointed that Seilala will not be with us next season, his departure does however bring opportunities to other London Irish players and to the club in terms of recruiting new talent."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success