Chiefs' lock commits long term, Highlanders find Hunt's replacement

Chiefs' lock commits long term, Highlanders find Hunt's replacement

Chiefs' rookie Tupou Vaa’i has signed with the franchise through to 2023 while the Highlanders look to have found Dillon Hunt's replacement with the flanker joining the Blues.

20-year-old Taranaki lock Tupou Vaa’i has signed with the Gallagher Chiefs through to 2023. The 1.98m lock hailing from Wesley College joined the Gallagher Chiefs at the start of the 2020 Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa competition as an injury replacement player. Vaa’i was widely recognised for his strong debut in the Gallagher Chiefs opening match of the new competition against the Highlanders in Dunedin earlier this year. Capping off his call up he concluded the season with seven Gallagher Chiefs caps and earnt selection in the North squad for the 2020 North vs. South fixture.

Vaa’i said he was excited for the opportunity ahead. 

“I always dreamed of playing for the Chiefs when I was growing up at school, so to debut this year was a dream come true. I’ve enjoyed being in the Gallagher Chiefs environment and have learnt a lot around my role as lock.”

“I am very excited to see what the future has installed for us as a team and am looking forward to both training and having the opportunity to learn off quality players,” said Vaa’i.

Chiefs Head Coach Warren Gatland said he is an impressive young player.

“This is a great opportunity for Tupou. He joined us for the Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign and for a young lock, he impressed us and certainly has a bright future ahead. He is a great trainer and is a strong physical lock. We are looking forward to seeing his game develop and what he can bring to the Gallagher Chiefs.”

Canterbury Flanker Billy Harmon has signed with the Highlanders for the 2021 Super Rugby Season. 

Harmon had been in the Crusaders squad since 2018 and performed well with every opportunity given to him over his three-year stint. The 25-year-old attended St Bede’s Collage in Christchurch where he was selected for the 2012 New Zealand Schools Barbarians squad to play against Australia and Samoa. In 2016, he debuted for the Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup side which won the Premiership title.

The dynamic backrower is enthusiastic about the joining the southern club. “I’m excited about the unique opportunity about moving down south to a new city, culture and environment. I already know a few boys down there who absolutely love it, so I can’t wait to get stuck in”.

Harmon’s impressive debut Super Rugby season was rewarded with a Maori All Blacks selection for the 2018 end of year tour. He will play a big part in Canterbury’s campaign in the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup competition which kicks off on Friday 11 September.

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