Glasgow Warriors are keeping their Fiji connection going with the news that they have signed scrum-half Nemia Kenatale on a one-year deal.
With star lock Leone Nakarawa, prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa and Fiji-born Wallaby Taqele Naiyaravoro all departing Scotstoun this summer, the South Seas flavour will be maintained by the arrival, subject to a visa and medical, of 30-year-old Kenatale, who is the second-choice scrum-half for the Pacific island nation to former Warriors favourite Niko Matawalu.
Kenatale has 37 caps for his country and was first-choice No 9 at the 2011 World Cup. He has spent the past two seasons playing in Romania for Steaua Bucuresti and Farul Constanta and also spent time in New Zealand with ITM Cup side Southland Stags.
Kenatale was in the Fiji Rugby World Cup squad in England last year, scoring an excellent try in the win over Uruguay.
Speaking to glasgowwarriors.org, Kenatale revealed he had spoken to compatriot Matawalu – the original “Fiji Weegie” – before agreeing the move: “I’m very excited to have signed for Glasgow Warriors,” he said.
“I want to be as successful as the other Fijian boys who have played for the club and what is important to me is that I’ll be playing at a very high level.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the Guinness Pro12 and European Rugby Champions Cup next season.
“I spoke to [coach] Gregor [Townsend] and he explained to me about the culture at the club and the way the club is growing and the environment at Scotstoun. Niko told me about his time in Glasgow and he was very positive about everything.
“I like playing fast-paced running rugby and I’m looking forward to playing that style of rugby in Glasgow next season.”
Kenatale, who is in Fiji’s squad for the Pacific Nations Cup later this month, made his Test debut against Japan in 2008 and has played against Scotland once – replacing Manawatu off the bench in the 37-25 loss to the tourists in Lautoka four years ago.
Townsend said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming Nemia to Glasgow this summer. He is an experienced scrum-half, having played regularly for Fiji over the last few seasons. He excels in the fundamentals of scrum-half play – getting quickly to rucks and passing accurately to his stand-off.
“Like most Fijians, Nemia thrives when the tempo of a game is high, which is the way we aspire to play.
“With Mike Blair retiring we’re delighted Nemia has agreed to join us to compete with the other scrum-halves at the club.”
Former Scotland captain Blair called time on his playing career in April after suffering concussions but will be a member of the coaching team next term as Kenatale vies with Ali Price and Grayson Hart for the No 9 jersey.
Kenatale is the latest new Glasgow signing for the 2016-17 season, joining hooker Corey Flynn, Italy wing Leonardo Sarto, prop Jarrod Firth and stand-off Rory Clegg.