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Umaga signs with Chiefs

28/10/2010 03:18:15 PM Comments (0)

Former All Black Tana Umaga has signed with the Waikato Chiefs to play Super 15 rugby next year, the club said on Thursday, capping a remarkable return to New Zealand.

The 37-year-old moved back to his homeland earlier this year after a stint with French side Toulon to take up a role as player-coach with domestic team Counties Manukau.

But his impact on the field, helping lift Counties from wooden spooners to ninth in the competition, convinced the Chiefs he could still perform in the elite Southern Hemisphere tournament.

"We've been really impressed with Tana as a player and his impact with Counties on his return from Europe," Chiefs coach Ian Foster said.

"We believe he will be a valuable asset to the team as he brings a high level of experience, knowledge and leadership."

Umaga, who was capped 79 times for New Zealand and captained the All Blacks 21 times, first played Super rugby when the tournament began in 1996.

He will be 38 during next year's competition.

"I'm pleased that I am still able to contribute both on and off the field," he said.

"Playing for the Chiefs was a good fit as I will be able to continue to work with some of the key Counties Manukau players, like Fritz Lee and Tim Nanai Williams."

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