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Vannes add ex-All Black to ambitious recruitment drive

Francis Saili, Steven Luatua and Charlie Faumuina could all theoretically represent Manu Samoa next year. (Photo by Andrew Cornaga/Photosport)

Vannes continue to prepare for life in the Top 14 after signing former All Black centre Francis Saili, as predicted in Fissler Confidential two weeks ago.

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They had been sniffing around Saili, who earlier in the year was a target for Bayonne for some time. Now that his deal with Racing 92 has ended, he has signed a two-year deal to move to Brittany.

Vannes will be the third French club that he has played for after moving across the English Channel in 2020 from Harlequins to play a key role in helping Biarritz secure promotion to the French top flight.

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Saili, 33, who was a Junior World Cup winner in 2011, won the first of his two All Blacks against Argentina in Hamilton two years later when he was playing for the Blues.

He moved to Munster in 2015 and, two years later, helped them reach a Pro12 final before crossing the Irish Sea to join Quins but now looks set to finish his career in France.

The inside centre, who can also play on the outside, made 19 appearances for Racing 92 last season, scoring one try and is the latest player to join Vannes in the last 48 hours and they step up their recruitment drive.

Castres and Fiji winger Filipo Nakosi has signed on for the next two seasons, while Chilean Iñaki Ayarza, 24, who can play anywhere in the back five positions. He signed up for four years.

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Ayarza, who was part of Chile’s World Cup squad, will leave Soyaux-Angoulême XV Charente. After joining them a season earlier, he helped them win promotion from Nationale in 2022.

They also landed former England and British & Irish Lions prop Mako Vunipola after he decided to end his illustrious career with Saracens, where he won Premiership and European Cup honours.

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Tom 36 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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