London Irish have made it extremely clear that they want to bounce back to the Gallagher Premiership with this signing.
The Exiles have signed TJ Ioane, who played for Sale Sharks last season. Currently, he is a Samoan international back-rower, winning the most recent of his 17 caps during this summer’s Pacific Nations Cup and Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
The Samoan certainly has experience and rugby pedigree, after having previously plied his trade for Wellington, Otago and the Highlanders. This kind of game knowledge means that the 29-year-old should at the very least be able to handle himself in a division which Irish will hope to come out of on top.
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Declan Kidney appeared to be pleased with the acquisition of the Islander, saying:
“TJ has proven international quality with plenty of Premiership experience,” said director of rugby Declan Kidney.
“We’re delighted that he has agreed to join us ahead of a big season, and his ball carrying and physicality will be an asset to us in the Championship.”
For players who are not familiar with the Samoan star. It might be worth rewatching his highlights in the Samoa vs South Africa match in 2015, where Ioane made some superb tackles for the men in blue. London Irish will be hoping that these kinds of big tackles continue in the Greene King IPA Championship, which is notorious for fielding players who can be extremely physical.