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Scarlets to sign All Black Vaea Fifita as salary cap pinches Wasps - reports

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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Former All Blacks forward Vaea Fifita is set to swap Coventry for Llanelli after Welsh region Scarlets reportedly managed to pull off his signing.

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The Telegraph, Wales Online and The Rugby Paper all report that the back row will make the switch to the United Rugby Championship, with Wasps being forced to shed the New Zealander due to the effects of the salary cap squeeze on Gallagher Premiership clubs.

It’s a major coup for Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel, whose side currently sits in ninth in the URC standings and aren’t typically in the running for a player of Fifita’s profile.

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The 29-year-old has 11 caps for the All Blacks, after making an eye-catching debut against Samoa in 2017.

A player with immense speed for his size, his impressive athleticism saw him make the most lineout steals (22) of any New Zealand player in Super Rugby since the beginning of 2016.

Like current Wasp and former All Black Malakai Fekitoa, Fifita was born in raised in Tonga, before moving to New Zealand for school.

Fifita won the Super Rugby title alongside current teammates Brad Shields and Jeff Toomaga-Allen with the Hurricanes in 2016.

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The 6ft 5in forward played over 50 games for the Canes, while also appearing for the Wellington Lions.  In June 2017, Fifita started at blindside flanker for the Hurricanes against the British and Irish Lions and scored a crucial try with ten minutes left to help the Wellington side draw 31-31.

Fifita was given his first test start for the All Blacks in September 2017, against Argentina. The 111kg forward had one of the standout performances of his career so far, scoring his second test try in spectacular fashion. Fifita sprinted in from 40m, out-running winger, Santiago Cordero and fullback Joaquín Tuculet. He was awarded Man of the Match in the All Blacks’ 39-22 win.

It’s also being reported that 39-year-old Jimmy Gopperth is a target of Steve Borthwick’s Leicester Tigers.

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