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Leiua secures URC contract seven weeks after Pro D2 deal torn up

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

Former Samoan international Alapati Leiua has secured a deal at the Stormers for the new URC season seven weeks after he had a two-year contract at Vannes in the Pro D2 torn up. The soon-to-be 34-year-old exited Bristol at the end of last season following a five-season stay that featured more than 100 appearances.

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The midfielder was soon unveiled as a new season signing at Vannes, the ambitious second-tier French club that has designs on winning promotion to the Top 14. However, it emerged on August 2 that this deal had been scrapped.

A club statement at the time read: “Alapati Leiua will ultimately not join Rugby Club Vannes. Despite an agreement reached to join Rugby Club Vannes this summer, the Samoan centre did not pass the medical examinations required by the protocol of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby. We wish him all the best for the rest of his career.”

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That ‘rest of career’ will now be in Cape Town after Leiua – who in recent weeks has been playing for Waikato in the Bunnings NPC back in New Zealand – agreed on terms with the Stormers, the defending URC champions. A statement read: “Experienced Samoan international centre Alapati Leiua has signed with the DHL Stormers for the new season.

“The powerful midfielder, who started his career at the Hurricanes before moving to the English Premiership where he played for Wasps and the Bristol Bears, has 31 Test caps for Samoa. Known for his uncompromising physicality on both attack and defence, the 33-year-old brings significant experience with him to Cape Town where he will link up with his new teammates on approval of his work permit.”

Stormers coach added about Leiua: “Alapati is a proven performer who will give us a hard edge in midfield while also mentoring some of the talented youngsters we have here. We saw the huge influence Jamie Roberts had in a short time here two years ago and we are expecting Alapati to play a similar role for us this season. We are looking forward to seeing the impact he makes here both on and off the field.”

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Leiua said: “We all saw this team play some incredible rugby last season and I want to add to that with my skills. This is a great chance to work with some talented young players and experience a completely new rugby culture, so I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

It was April 29 when Bristol boss Pat Lam farewelled Leiua. “Alapati has truly been a fantastic servant to the Bears and a leader for our culture and environment. He has made an immense contribution on and off the field, laying the foundations for the next chapter of the Bears’ journey.

“We are delighted for Alapati, his wife Carmel and son Manu about the opportunity that has come up to play in France and to experience a different culture. He can be proud of what he has achieved and the standards that he has set. He departs with our love and best wishes.”

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