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London Irish bolsters its front row

London Irish bolsters its front row

London Irish is delighted to announce that South African international, Faan Rautenbach and Romanian international, Paulica Ion have signed one year and two year contract extensions respectively.

They will be joined in the front row next season by a new signing, Tongan born prop, Leo Halavatau, from Birmingham & Solihull.

Faan Rautenbach joined London Irish in 2005 from Western Province in South Africa. The big prop forward, who has been capped 14 times by the Springboks, made his 100th appearance for the Exiles against Harlequins at the back end of last year at Twickenham stadium. Faan will be with Irish until the end of the 2011/12 season.

Paulica Ion joined the Exiles from Bath in 2009 and has become a real favourite with his great scrummaging and lineout work. The Romanian international, who has played 35 games for London Irish, is also likely to feature for his country later this year at the World Cup in New Zealand to add to his 35 international caps.

London Irish head coach, Toby Booth, said: “We are delighted that Faan and Paulica have extended their contracts. The front row is a very demanding position and we are fortunate enough to have two excellent practitioners in Paulica and Faan.They are both assets to our scrum and lineout, and have a fantastic work rate around the field.”

Paulica said: “I have been very happy at London Irish since joining from Bath and I want to stay involved with the club. I want to be part of a team that are constantly competing at the highest level and I believe London Irish is the right place to achieve this.”

Faan added to Paulica’s comment saying: “I am really enjoying my time at London Irish and I think with the squad we are recruiting, next year could be a great season for the club and I cannot wait to be part of that.”

Leo Halavatau has been brought in on a two year contract to bolster the Exiles’ front row options for next year. The powerful Tongan prop forward, who has made guest appearances for the London Irish A league side this season, has spent the last few years plying his trade in the Championship for Birmingham & Solihull and will join up with the Exiles over the summer.

Leo Halavatau had this to say on signing for London Irish: “Playing in the Aviva Premiership has always been a goal of mine and I am delighted that London Irish has given me the opportunity. There are some world class players at London Irish and I am relishing the opportunity to play alongside them all when I start training in the summer. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Birmingham & Solihull and I would like to thank all the coaching staff for their support during my time here. However it is time to test myself further and I look forward to taking on a new challenge with London Irish next season.”

Commenting on the signing, London Irish head coach Toby Booth said: “Leo is a great scrummager and because of his past experiences of playing in the back row, he is also good in the loose. He will be a great asset to our squad and we’re excited about having him on board.”


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