All Black prop Karl Tu’inukuafe has swapped the Chiefs for the Blues, signing a three-year deal in Auckland.
The 25-year-old former security guard only signed for Mitre 10 Cup side North Harbour in 2015 and earned his first Super Rugby cap for the Chiefs this season.
Tu’inukuafe’s displays impressed New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, who used him as a replacement in the three Tests against France in June.
“Karl has been one of the real finds in New Zealand rugby in the last couple of years, and will only get better and better,” said Blues coach Tana Umaga.
“He will be a really strong addition to our pack and gives us real depth in our front row alongside the likes of Ofa [Tu’ungafasi] and Alex Hodgman. While Karl is comparatively new to the sport at this level, he will provide leadership to our young front-rowers emerging in the club.”
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) July 26, 2018
Tu’inukuafe will work alongside his coach at North Harbour, Tom Coventry, who will be working as an assistant coach at the Blues in 2019.
“It is exciting for my family and me to be coming home. I think we have a strong squad for next year. I have my Harbour coach Tom Coventry coming in to take the forwards and I get to stay in the region,” said Tu’inukuafe.
“The set-up at the Blues looks great and I am going to enjoy being part of this club and hopefully I can do my part in helping the club do well.”
Hansen added: “It’s fantastic news for big Karl and New Zealand Rugby. He really impressed us in his first campaign with the All Blacks in June. He’s a humble man and very low-key but he went about his work in a very professional manner.
“We all saw how destructive he can be as a scrummager but he’s also nailing his other core roles, he’s eager to learn and he made great strides in the black jersey. We look forward to working with Karl in the future.”
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