Premiership: Northampton Saints sign Wallaby Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Wallaby Lukhan Salakaia-Loto will join Premiership side Northampton Saints ahead of the 2022/23 season, it was announced on Tuesday.

The 6’6” second-row – who clocks in at 116kgs and can also line up in the back-row – has 30 Test caps to his name for the Wallabies, and will arrive at at Franklin’s Gardens following the conclusion of the 2022 Super Rugby campaign.

After representing Sydney’s Western Suburbs rugby league side at age-group level, Salakaia-Loto came through the Colts and Shute Shield teams for Randwick, also getting selected for Australia in the 2015 and 2016 World Rugby U20s Championships.

Wealthy of experience

He signed his first professional contract with Reds in 2015 and has since enjoyed a stellar seven-year Super Rugby career, making 64 appearances in the competition to date.

His form for the Reds was rewarded with a Test debut for Australia against South Africa in 2017; Salakaia-Loto then notched up five appearances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and has also taken his Rugby Championship tally to 12, but the 25-year-old is now relishing the prospect of proving his ability in the Premiership.

“I am incredibly excited to be signing for Northampton Saints, a prestigious club which is known around the world and boasts a long history of success,” Salakaia-Loto said to the side’s official website.

“I’ve heard that Franklin’s Gardens is an amazing place to play rugby, and for a long time now, I have wanted to test myself in the Northern Hemisphere.

“The Northampton squad is already filled with talent and I’m just looking forward to getting over to England later this year to try to develop my game, and help the team win some trophies.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me and my family, so I can’t wait to pull on a Black, Green and Gold jersey for the first time.”

Saints’ incoming director of rugby, Phil Dowson, added: “First and foremost, Lukhan is a big man and a phenomenal athlete, who in the lineout can both jump and call as well. From a set-piece point of view that’s a massive feather in his cap as he can get in the air in attack and in defence.

“But he’s also got a fantastic skillset with a background in rugby league; he’s fast and has got the ability to move and offload the ball too, so he possesses all the credentials he needs to be a real handful in the Premiership.

“He’s still a young man at 25, but is really highly regarded within the Australian environment and comes to Franklin’s Gardens with international experience – so he’s a very exciting signing for us and I’m sure he will add a huge amount to the group.”

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