Chiefs lock in duo with 'bright futures'
The 21-year-old Ah Kuoi extended his contract a further two years, while Waikato loose forward Finau signed with the Hamilton-based franchise through to 2024.
Since his Chiefs debut against the Blues in 2020, Ah Kuoi has made 20 appearances for the Chiefs and was instrumental in 2021 as his side reached the Super Rugby Aotearoa final. With the promise and talent he has shown this season, Chiefs fans will certainly be pleased to see him sticking around.
“I love this club, from the people to the fans it is an amazing club and region,” commented Ah Kuoi on his decision. “I am honoured to have the privilege of representing both. It has provided me with the opportunity to pursue my dream of being a professional rugby player.”
“Not only have I been supported on the field in the development of my game, the Gallagher Chiefs have always supported me and my new family which we are exceptionally grateful for. I hope I can continue to proudly represent the Gallagher Chiefs jersey both on and off the field for the next two years,” said Ah Kuoi.
The 22-year-old Finau debuted for the Chiefs in 2021 against the Highlanders after being called in as a replacement player. The former New Zealand U20s representative went on to win six Chiefs caps this season, at times pairing up with Ah Kuoi in the second row and displaying the fantastic versatility he brings to the team.
“It was an easy decision for me to sign with the Chiefs because this is where I’ve always wanted to be,” said Finau. “This is the team I’ve always dreamt of playing for and it feels like home to me. It’s more than just a team, it is a family.”
“This environment has brought out the best version of myself on and off the field and I have loved every moment of being here. Everyone gets along and brings the best out of each other, and I am looking forward to the journey continuing,” said Finau.
Chiefs and Maori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan was full of praise for the two young men.
“It is great for the Chiefs to be able to secure the services of Naitoa and Samipeni. They are highly skilled players with bright futures, having already demonstrated an ability to impose themselves on games over the last few seasons. They are only going to get better with experience, and I have no doubt they are going to be significant contributors to our environment both on and off the field.”
The All Blacks have continually talked about taking their physicality to the next level – but it will be up to some key individuals in the pack to really take games by the scruff of the neck. #AllBlacks
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) June 29, 2021
“Samipeni joined us during pre-season as an injury replacement. He is an explosive athlete with an innate ability to carry with ball in hand. He has been impressive for us this year and we are pleased to have him onboard for a further three years,” said McMillan.
Chiefs Rugby Club CEO Michael Collins said: “Both Naitoa and Samipeni have been strong contributors for the Gallagher Chiefs this season and have continued to take their game to the next level. We are looking forward to seeing them establish themselves in the Gallagher Chiefs squad.”
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