Northampton Pull Off Double Swoop
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Northampton Saints have swooped to make a pair of signings ahead of their European Rugby Champions Cup return.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder has secured the signings of Fiji lock Api Ratuniyarawa, and Tonga and former Junior All Black Nafi Tuitavake.
Ratuniyarawa arrived at Franklin’s Gardens after being released early from his contract at Pro D2 side Agen.
The 19-cap second-row will bring a physical presence, standing at 6ft 6in tall and weighing in at 112kgs. He could be involved in the Saints’ Champions Cup Pool 4 opener against Montpellier next month, and he cannot wait to pull on the black, green and gold jersey.
“I’ve enjoyed playing for Agen, which is a great club,” he said. “But now I’m looking forward to the next part of my career in England. It is a decision which I have made as much for my family as for myself, and I am grateful to Northampton’s coaches for giving me the opportunity.
“I know from my Fiji team mate Campese Ma’afu that it is a great club and hopefully I can help the Saints achieve success in the Aviva Premiership.”
Former Crusaders back Tuitavake has also made the move across the English channel having signed from Narbonne. The 27-year-old is a graduate of the same 2009 IRB Junior World Championships-winning All Blacks team as Ken Pisi, Aaron Cruden and Zac Guildford.
Tuitavake will be out to make his mark in pool stage clashes with Leinster, Castres and Montpellier. And he is hoping he can fit in seamlessly with some of his former teammates.
“I have really enjoyed my time at Narbonne, but the opportunity to join Northampton was one I could not resist. They are a world-renowned club with some amazing players and I can’t wait to get started.
“I know Ace Tuala very well and Ken Pisi from our time at North Harbour and they have nothing but good things to say about Saints. I am very grateful to Narbonne president Bernard Archilla for allowing me to take this opportunity and look forward to meeting my new team mates.”