Force snap up Nalaga
September 5, 2011
Nalaga will make the switch from French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne after the Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
The Western Force have secured a major coup with the signing of Fijian winger Napolioni Nalaga as the franchise's marquee signing for 2012 Super Rugby season.
The 25-year-old flyer will complete the high-profile switch from French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne following Fiji's Rugby World Cup campaign. A former Top 14 Player of the Year, Nalaga has spent the past four seasons in French rugby's top flight and was part of the squad that claimed the Bouclier de Brennus at the end of the 2009-10 season - scoring an all-important try in the 19-6 victory over Perpignan in the Stade de France final.
"I'm pretty excited about coming to Super Rugby, it is a competition I have been following for a long time," Nalaga said from Fiji's World Cup training base in New Zealand. "There are some very good players and the level of rugby is very high as well.
"I enjoyed my time in France and I'm thankful for the opportunities Clermont gave me but I'm looking forward to a new challenge as well. I haven't ever been to Perth but I know it is a good place and it will be good for my rugby.
"I have spoken to the coach (Richard Graham) about what he wants from me. It will be an exciting season and I'll be working hard and wanting to score tries for my new team mates and the supporters," said Nalaga.
Force coach Richard Graham spent considerable time scouring the globe to find a player to replace Top14-bound Samoan winger David Smith and is delighted to have secured a proven world class try scorer.
"Nalaga obviously has the ability to score tries but also importantly he has shown that he can quickly gel into a new environment and different styles of rugby on the back of his efforts when he first arrived in France," Graham said.
"He is a player that can hit the ground running and coming off the back of a World Cup campaign with Fiji he'll be in top condition when he joins us for pre-season training. Given we lost David (Smith) and his try scoring I wanted a like for like replacement and I'm confident we've achieved that. He is a big man, quick, skilful and knows his way to the line.
"I spoke to numerous people about Nalaga, including the coach that first had him at Clermont (Joe Schmidt), and he couldn't have spoken more highly of him as a person or the work ethic he brought to his preparation and performance. We feel as though we're bringing in a very good person and a very good rugby player," Graham said.
Nalaga, who captained the Fijian U21 side at the IRB Junior World Cup in 2006, is expected to play a prominent role for the Flying Fijians in the coming weeks with their campaign set to kick off against Namibia on Sunday.
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