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Leicester confirm the signing of two of Dan McKellar's old Brumbies

By Liam Heagney
Exeter's Solomone Kata (Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Incoming Leicester boss Dan McKellar has confirmed the signing of two players he previously worked with at the Brumbies, Exeter’s Solomone Kata and Ulster’s Sam Carter. Tigers had earlier confirmed on Thursday the early contract release of Harry Potter, whose return to Australia will end his three-year association with the English club.


However, that surprise news has now been followed by Leicester announcing two signings after new boss McKellar thumbed through his list of old contacts from his days at the Super Rugby Brumbies before he moved on to assist Dave Rennie’s Wallabies.

A statement read: “Leicester are pleased to confirm the signings of international duo Solomone Kata and Sam Carter. The 28-year-old Kata, who is capable of playing in the midfield or on the wing, will join Tigers from Exeter.

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“Born in Tonga, Kata moved to New Zealand at 16 years of age to attend Sacred Heart College which boats rugby internationals Kieran Crowley, Sean Fitzpatrick, Xavier Rush and Taniela Tupou among their alumni. He represented Tonga at age-grade level before switching to rugby league to join the Auckland-based New Zealand Warriors, who compete in the NRL, in 2013.

“Kata played for the Warriors U20s side for two seasons and made his senior Test debut for Tonga in 2014 before making his NRL debut in 2015. In 2016, he represented New Zealand in international rugby league. During his time in rugby league, Kata made more than 100 appearances and scored more than 50 tries.


“He returned to rugby union in 2019 to join the Brumbies where he spent three years, and he made his Test rugby union debut in 2021. In 2022, Kata joined fellow Super Rugby side Moana Pasifika for one season before signing with Exeter ahead of the 2022/23 northern hemisphere season.

“Meanwhile, 33-year-old Carter, who plays at lock and in the back-row, will join Tigers from Ulster. Carter was born in Tamworth, Australia, and represented Sydney University before signing his first professional rugby contract with the Brumbies in 2010.


“He made his Super Rugby debut in 2011 and went on to make more than 120 appearances for the Canberra-based side during the next nine seasons, including the last two as captain. In 2014, Carter made his Test debut for the Wallabies and joined a unique group of father and sons to have represented the Australian national rugby union side.

“He moved to Ulster ahead of the 2019/20 northern hemisphere season and has since made 58 appearances for the Irish club including captaining the Belfast-based side. Carter and Kata join Josh Bassett, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Kyle Hatherell, Jamie Shillcock and Finn Theobald-Thomas as confirmed signings for Dan McKellar’s Leicester Tigers squad ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.”

Incoming head coach McKellar said: “I’m very excited to have Solomone joining Leicester from next season. What you see is what you get with Solomone; he is a physical, tough player, who also possesses a good skill set and offers us a genuine point of difference, in attack and defence, in the midfield.

“Importantly, Sol is a good man, who cares deeply about his teammates and I know will be a positive addition to our squad from next season.


“Sam is a great addition to our forward pack from next season and a player who has a wealth of experience in the game in both the southern and northern hemisphere, as well as having played Test rugby. He is an outstanding line out caller, who enjoys the hard work, and his signing provides us with strong depth in the second row.

“In addition to what Sam gives us on the field, his leadership and character as a person are also huge positives to be bringing into our group, which I am pleased about.”

Kata added: “As an island boy growing up in Tonga, the only team I ever knew of in England was Leicester Tigers after watching Alesana Tuilagi represent the club. I knew back then just how big a club Leicester was and definitely dreamt of wanting to join a team that big. I mean, who wouldn’t want to join a club like Tigers?

“With Dan joining, it is very exciting to work with him again. I started my rugby career under him at the Brumbies and can’t wait to be coached by him again. I love the Premiership and the physicality of this competition. It is the kind of games I want to be involved in; taking on your opposition, man to man, and the way the crowds love that physicality.

“Mattioli Woods Welford Road is an unbelievable stadium with an unreal crowd, which was so loud and had so much energy in it. I can’t wait to have that ruthless support on my side.”

Carter said: “Leicester is a big club, one of the biggest in the game with such a proud history. It’s very exciting to be joining a club of this magnitude. I made the move to Ulster to test myself in the big games and arena that European rugby provides and know that it will be just as big and exciting a challenge to be able to do that with Leicester from next season.”

“I’m excited to link back up with Dan after a few years together in the Brumbies and after speaking with him, looking forward to being a part of what he is looking to build at the club.”


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