Aviva Premiership: London Irish sign Chiefs lock Matt Symons

Chiefs lock set to return home to England as Exiles continue their rebuilding ahead of the 2015/16 Aviva Premiership season

Matt Symons will return to England in the summer with Aviva Premiership club London Irish.

The 25-year-old lock, who moved to New Zealand in 2012 from Esher, is the latest signing unveiled by the Exiles as they continue to rebuild for the 2015/16 season.

The opportunities that London Irish offered and the chance to return home were very compelling.

Matt Symons on returning to England from New Zealand

He has established himself in Super Rugby with the Chiefs, taking on the role of vice-captain for the current campaign, playing alongside the likes of All Blacks contingent Aaron Cruden, Brodie Retallick, Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams.

But Symons believes that the opportunities to return to England with the Exiles was compelling and he will make the transition this summer along with Chiefs assistant coach Tom Coventry, who will take over the reins at London Irish.

“It was a really tough decision to leave one of the best Super Rugby teams in the competition, but the opportunities that London Irish offered and the chance to return home were very compelling,” Symons said.

“The new coaching set up at London Irish is exciting.

“I had made my decision before they had established the management team, but having worked with Tom Coventry at the Chiefs I know he will be a massive asset to London Irish.”

England born, Symons is a former member of the Saracens academy until the age of 17, but switched his attention to Great Britain’s Rowing World Class Start programme, before injury saw his rowing ambitions ended.

His move to the southern hemisphere saw him play for High School Old Boys RFC in Christchurch before captaining the 2013 Crusader Knights side and going on to represent the Crusaders in a friendly match against the Hurricanes.

He is a natural born leader who is the right age and a player we believe will be a key figure in leading this club onto bigger and better things.

London Irish operations director on Matt Symons

He joined reigning ITM Cup champions Canterbury in 2013 ITM Cup, becoming a regular in the side as they retained their title, before joining the Chiefs’ Super Rugby squad despite interest from the Crusaders.

His performances for the Waikato-based franchise, saw him named as the Chiefs’ pre-season captain and become vice-captain for their current Super Rugby campaign.

London Irish operations director Bob Casey is delighted to land a player they have been following for some time.

“Matt is an incredible athlete. He has size, mobility, work rate and is joining from a world class set up at the Chiefs,” said Casey.

“He is a natural born leader who is the right age and a player we believe will be a key figure in leading this club onto bigger and better things.

“Matt is a player we have targeted for some time and both Glenn Delaney and Nick Kennedy have played a key role in attracting him to the club.”

The Exiles have already confirmed the capture of former Chiefs wing/full-back Sean Maitland from Glasgow Warriors, Scotland-born Waratahs scrum-half Brendan McKibbin, and All Blacks prop Ben Franks from the Hurricanes.

Veteran outside-half Andy Goode is also heading to the Madjeski Stadium with Wasps team-mate Dominic Waldouck.

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