The Glasgow Warriors pack will boast another quality international forward next season after it was today revealed that No.8 Viliami Ma’afu is to join the Scotstoun set-up in the summer. It’s okay, you can just call him Wullie.
The Tongan back-rower starred for his country at the recent Rugby World Cup, earning widespread praise for his displays in the tournament opener against hosts New Zealand and in the historic win over finalists France. He also scored a crucial try in the victory against Japan.
In addition to his international experience, Ma’afu will bring to bear the benefit of his time in Super Rugby, where he shone for the Blues in the 2010 competition after proving his class with North Harbour at provincial level.
A powerful, combative performer and confident ball carrier, the 29-year-old is a talented all-round sportsman, having also represented Tonga at tennis and golf.
Ma’afu’s deal takes him up to the end of May 2014, subject to the appropriate visa being obtained. He currently plays for the Mistubishi club in Japan.
Ma’afu told www.glasgowwarriors.org: “I’m delighted to have signed for a major club like Glasgow Warriors, and can’t wait to become part of the team in the summer.
“I know they’ve been doing well in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season, and it’s exciting to know I’ll be able to play a part in big games in that competition and the Heineken Cup.
“I’ve been very impressed by what everyone at the Warriors has told me about where they want to take the club – it’s clear that there is a lot of ambition, and a talented squad in place. It’s going to be a fantastic place to play my rugby.”
Head coach Sean Lineen hailed the signing as a “real coup”, saying: “We’re all really excited about what Viliami will offer us from next season. He’s proved his ability on some of the biggest stages in world rugby, he’s got real presence and leadership potential, he’s at a great age for a loose forward and he’s hungry for success.
“It’s a great all-round package to have in a signing, and I’m convinced he’ll make a really positive impact. We’ve got good strength in depth in the back row, and Viliami will bring his own flavour and ability to that. He offers another angle of attack, as well as excellent defensive qualities.”
Wullie looks like a good signing, and Glasgow will be hoping he can have the impact Talei has had at Edinburgh. With Johnnie Beattie out of contract soon and no news on a re-signature, and Ryan Wilson currently the man in form, it points to a Beattie exit really doesn’t it?
Glasgow Warriors also announced that Newcastle Falcons lock Tim Swinson is to move to the Scotstoun-based club for the start of season 2012/13.
Swinson is one of the most highly rated and consistent locks in the English Premiership, where he has racked up 82 appearances since making his Falcons debut in 2007.
The 25-year-old’s fantastic form in 2010/11 saw him named Newcastle Player of the Season, and he has continued to impress during the current campaign.
Swinson, a one-time Australian Grand finalist with Sydney University, is eligible to play for Scotland, courtesy of a maternal grandmother from Glasgow. He has signed a two-year contract with the Warriors, taking him up to the end of May 2014.
“There is a great team environment at the club, and everything I’ve seen and heard about the Warriors suggests that’s very much the case in Glasgow as well. It’s going to be a really positive place and team to be part of. I leave the Falcons on good terms and the move has been handled well on both sides.” said Swinson.
Head coach Sean Lineen welcomed Swinson’s signing, saying: “We see this as a very positive step in our planning for next season. Tim is a player who has consistently stood out in one of the toughest testing grounds for a second row forward, the English Premiership.
“He’s a battle-hardened competitor who relishes the physical side of the game, and he’s not one for taking a backward step with the pressure’s really on.
Warriors managing director Nathan Bombrys said: “He’s a quality lock who has a real appetite to progress. He’s impressed us with how keen he is to come here, and we’re very happy to have secured his signature.”