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Chiefs re-sign fan favourite Naitoa Ah Kuoi on two-year extension

By Ned Lester
Naitoa Ah Kuoi of the Chiefs takes the field. Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images

The Chiefs have locked in the service of All Blacks XV utility forward Naitoa Ah Kuoi for another two years.

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Primarily employed at lock, the Wellington product has become a popular figure amongst the Hamilton fanbase for his energetic character.

On the field, Ah Kuoi has proven to be one of New Zealand’s premier defensive lineout threats, appearing near the top of the 2023 season lineout steals statistics despite not owning a starting role with the Chiefs.

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The 24-year-old’s extension locks in the future of perhaps the strongest young second-row units in Super Rugby, as Ah Kuoi continues to work alongside All Blacks Tupou Vaa’i and Josh Lord, as well as Manaaki Selby-Rickit.

“It’s pretty cool to be sticking around,” said Ah Kuoi. “I’ve been here since I was 20 and I’ve grown up in this place. The Chiefs have made me a better player, a better person and supported my family throughout this journey which I’m truly grateful for. At the end of the day, I just want to win a title for this province and its people. That’s it.”

With his 2023 form earning him an All Blacks XV selection after appearing off the bench in the Super Rugby Pacific final, Ah Kuoi’s value to the Chiefs team was expressed by coach Clayton McMillan.

“Naitoa is a big part of our club. He’s a strong, consistent performer and has been outstanding for us in his time with the team,” he said.

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“He’s a big personality that adds a lot to the off-field culture, bringing abundant energy. His family have been a real ‘why’ for him and we are glad to have them continuing as part of the Chiefs whanau too. We are looking forward to seeing his continued development as a player and as a man.”

The Chiefs are locked in for a home quarter-final but have one final test in Super Rugby Pacific’s round-robin in the form of familiar rivals the Blues.

The game will decide whether the Auckland team top the table and earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs or if the Hurricanes reclaim their No. 1 seed and win hosting rights.

Related

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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