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'Phenomenal athlete' Lukhan Salakaia-Loto signs for Northampton

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Northampton Saints have confirmed the signing of Wallabies lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto ahead of the 2022/23 season from the Queensland Reds. The 6ft 6in second row, who weighs 116kgs and can also line up in the back row, has 30 Test caps and will arrive at Franklin’s Gardens following the conclusion of the 2022 Super Rugby campaign.

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“I am incredibly excited to be signing for Northampton Saints, a prestigious club which is known around the world and boasts a long history of success,” said Salakaia-Loto. “I have heard that Franklin’s Gardens is an amazing place to play rugby and for a long time now, I have wanted to test myself in the northern hemisphere.

“The Northampton squad is already filled with talent and I’m just looking forward to getting over to England later this year to try to develop my game and help the team win some trophies. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and my family, so I can’t wait to pull on a Northampton jersey for the first time.”

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Phil Dowson, the incoming Northampton director of rugby, added: “First and foremost, Lukhan is a big man and a phenomenal athlete who in the lineout can both jump and call as well. From a set-piece point of view, that is a massive feather in his cap as he can get in the air in attack and in defence.

“But he has also got a fantastic skillset with a background in rugby league. He is fast and has got the ability to move and offload the ball too, so he possesses all the credentials he needs to be a real handful in the Gallagher Premiership.

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“He is still a young man at 25, but is really highly regarded within the Australian environment and comes to Franklin’s Gardens with international experience, so he is a very exciting signing for us and I’m sure he will add a huge amount to the group.”

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After representing Sydney’s Western Suburbs rugby league side at age-group level, Salakaia-Loto came through the Colts and Shute Shield teams for Randwick and was selected for Australia in the 2015 and 2016 U20 World Cups.

He signed his first professional contract with the Reds in 2015 and has since enjoyed a seven-year Super Rugby career, making 64 appearances to date. His Reds form was rewarded with a Test debut for Australia against South Africa in 2017 and he played five times at the 2019 World Cup.

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