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Ex-All Black Malakai Fekitoa names the club he will join next season

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Italian franchise Benetton have secured a recruitment coup, signing ex-All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa on a three-year deal. It was last month when a Munster statement revealed that the 30-year-old would be leaving the Irish province after just a single season rather than stay for the two years he was believed to have originally signed on for from Wasps.

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Twenty-two days later, Fekitoa has now sorted out his club future and will move to Italy to play his club rugby there once his Rugby World Cup commitments with Tonga, the country he now represents, are complete.

A statement read: “Great market coup for the Lions. Benetton Rugby is happy to announce the signing of centre Malakai Fekitoa from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2026, with an option relating to the 2025/2026 season.

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“Fekitoa won a World Cup in 2015 with New Zealand and represents a three-quarter with a remarkable international pedigree. From a technical point of view, he is a complete player: exceptional skills in the offensive phase, tough in defence and in tackles, equipped with a disruptive physicality that allows him to sweep opponents and create breaks in the middle of the field.

“Fekitoa needs no introduction and his landing on the green-and-white court is one of the most prestigious arrivals in the history of Benetton Rugby.”

Fekitoa said: “I am very excited to join the club next season. My family and I are very grateful for the opportunity. It’s a new challenge for me in my career and I’m looking forward to giving my all and playing really well for Benetton Rugby, plus I’ll be reuniting with friends I’ve played with in the past. The team is playing exciting rugby and I want to be a part of it. I hope to be able to contribute to the club on and off the pitch.”

Benetton general manager Antonio Pavanello added: “The signing of Fekitoa represents a step forward for the club. I would like to say that the merit of this signature belongs to the whole company and to all those who work for it. Since Malakai’s choice comes both for our growing sporting merits but also because he has found a structure that can certainly stand on the stage of the greats.

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“We want a signing of this calibre to take us one step further in terms of growing sporting results. Fekitoa will enrich a department already today made up of interesting profiles and will help fuel the competition across the board.

“We expect him to bring to the group the experience of a player who has played in all the major leagues in the world, who has worn a very important shirt like that of the All Blacks with which he won a World Cup and who exalts our fans with his plays.”

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