Aviva Premiership: London Welsh snap up Tonga prop
Aviva Premiership: London Welsh snap up Tonga international prop forward Eddie Aholelei
Eddie Aholelei has become London Welsh’s latest addition, joining the Exiles from Super 15 side Melbourne Rebels.
The Tonga international prop forward 32, scored a try on his international debut against Japan in 2013 and has gone on to win six caps for Tonga, including two appearances in last month’s Pacific Nations Cup and starting against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in November.
The move represents a fantastic chance for me to enjoy a fresh start and for my family to experience a different country and culture
He will link up at London Welsh with Tonga teammate, and fellow prop, Taione Vea.
At 1.9m and 123kg, Aholelei is a physical and tenacious prop who can play loosehead or tighthead.
Auckland-born of Tongan heritage, he moved to Sydney as a teenager and between 2001-2013 made over 200 first-grade appearances for Manly Marlins in the Shute Shield.
His breakthrough came in 2011 when he joined the Melbourne Rebels on their European Tour. That same year he represented the Rebels’ A team and the Australian Barbarians, while continuing to play for Manly in Sydney.
His perseverance and hard work was rewarded in 2012 with a Super 15 debut against the Brumbies.
Aholelei said: “Firstly I would like to thank London Welsh for giving me this opportunity. I am honoured and humbled to be heading to England to represent the Club in what is undoubtedly one of the toughest domestic competitions in world rugby, the Aviva Premiership.
“I know London Welsh has a very proud history and I’m looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead, both on and off the field. The move represents a fantastic chance for me to enjoy a fresh start and for my family to experience a different country and culture.
“I am looking forward to meeting the boys, the Club staff and, of course, London Welsh’s faithful supporters.”
London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said: “Eddie is a Tongan international and I watched him first hand against Wales in the autumn at the Millennium Stadium. He’s got Super 15 experience, is a very big powerful man and is another excellent addition to our squad for next season.”