Moana Pasifika has unveiled Wallabies centurion Sekope Kepu as the franchise’s eighth signing ahead of his first Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
A 16-year veteran of professional rugby experience, Kepu joins the new Manukau Counties expansion team after joining the province for the 2021 NPC season.
The Covid-19 outbreak in parts of northern New Zealand in recent months limited the 35-year-old to just two appearances for the Steelers before Manukau counties, as well as Auckland and North Harbor, failed. be omitted from the rest of the provincial campaign.
Nonetheless, Kepu will bring a plethora of experience across all levels of play to Moana Pasifika, including 110 test selections for the Wallabies between 208 and 2019.
Of Tongan origin, Kepu has strong ties to New Zealand and Australia, having been born in Sydney before moving to Auckland with his family in his youth.
The former Wesley College student began his professional career with Manukau Counties in 2006 and was based in Pukekohe for two seasons before crossing Tasman to sign a Super Rugby contract with the Waratahs in 2008.
The same year, he made his debut with the Wallabies against Italy in Padua and established himself as a mainstay in the green and gold jersey.
While in Australia, Kepu played a key role in guiding the Waratahs to their only Super Rugby title to date in 2014 and competed in three World Cups for the Wallabies.
He started head tight in Australia’s 2015 World Cup final loss to the All Blacks at Twickenham and played his last international game for the Wallabies in their Cup group stage victory World Cup 2019 against Georgia in Shizuoka.
After announcing his retirement two years before the World Tournament, Kepu ended his testing career with a Rugby Championship title, three tests against the British and Irish Lions, six Mandela Challenge Plate wins, three Cook Cup wins and seven James Bevan. Trophy success.
At club and provincial level, Kepu played a solo match for the New South Wales Country Eagles in the former Australian National Rugby Championship in 2018, after playing for Bordeaux in France in the 2015- season. 16 of the Top 14.
He returned to Europe after the 2019 World Cup to join the London Irish in the Premiership, but only played 14 times for the Brentford-based club before returning to New Zealand for personal reasons in February.
Kepu will be joined by former Wallabies teammate Christian Leali’ifano at Moana Pasifika next year after the 34-year-old was named as the franchise’s very first signing last Thursday.
Since then, the team coached by Aaron Mauger have confirmed the arrivals of former Crusaders half-back Ere Enari, Manu Samoa trio Henry Taefu, Neria Foma’i and Tomasi Alosio, and Tongan internationals Sione Tu’ipulotu and Solomone Funaki.
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