Siegfried Fisi’ihoi is set to join Top 14 outift Stade Francais, subject to passing a medical, according to reports in the French press.
The 30-year-old Chiefs’ front-rower travelled to Paris on Monday and is expected to sign as an additional player later this week once the formalities are complete, Midi Olympique reports.
With Argentinian prop Ramiro Herrera due to arrive at the club in November, this latest signing should finally close the book on the club’s recruitment programme for the year.
Fisi’ihoi, who has been capped twice by Tonga, has been brought in to provide some much-needed front-row cover at Stade Jean Bouin.
The club’s infirmary is bursting with props and hookers. Heinke van der Merwe is still recovering from a hernia operation in June. Sacharia Taulafo is not back to full fitness following a car accident in December 2016. Emmanuel Felsina has suffered repeated injuries that have kept him out of action. Rémi Bonfils sustained a knee injury in August. Laurent Sempered suffered cruciate ligament damage in May. And Laurent Panis tore a muscle at the start of the season.
Fisi’ihoi was temporarily deported from New Zealand in 2010, when it was discovered he had overstayed his visa while playing for Bay of Plenty’s development side. He was able to return to New Zealand the following year and played club rugby for Rotoiti.
His first experience of senior provincial rugby came late, at the age of 27, when he made the Bay of Plenty squad in the 2014 ITM Cup. Playing largely off the bench in his debut season, he scored twice in seven appearances.
He was called up into Chiefs wider training squad in 2016. Injuries Nepo Laulala and Pauliasi Manu meant he got plenty of game time during his first year in Hamilton.
He made nine appearances off the bench during his debut Super Rugby campaign as the Chiefs got all the way to the semi-finals before going down to New Zealand rivals and eventual winners, the Hurricanes.