Hamilton Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs have announced that Kane Hames and Sosefo Kautai have committed to the Chiefs until 2019, with Nepo Laulala and Atunaisa Moli signing for the next three years.
The re-signings provide a blend of youth and experience that will mean the Chiefs have some propping stocks for the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Incoming Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper said: “I am very excited by the signings of four quality front rowers for next year and the future of the Chiefs. Kane and Nepo are great men on and off the field. They bring a huge amount of experience, leadership and are very driven, plus they provide continuity which is great for the team. Atunaisa and Sosefo are young, hard-working and important for the future. Atunaisa offers versatility as he can play on both sides of the scrum, while Sosefo is finding his feet in Super Rugby quickly which will create some great competition for places. I’m looking forward to working with them all and seeing them continue to grow as players and men.”
Loosehead prop Kane Hames has dominated the Chiefs number 1 jersey this season, starting in 12 of the 13 games he has played this year to date. The 28-year-old joined the Chiefs as injury cover in 2016, with his performances earning him an All Blacks Test debut against Australia in August last year. The 1.81m and 113kg studious tighthead prop hails from Bay of Plenty but currently plays his Mitre 10 Cup rugby with the Tasman Makos. Hames has an immense work ethic, high standards and is a strong leader. The Maori All Blacks representative is also a registered rugby referee and he has thus far played 22 games for the Chiefs.
Sosefo Kautai made his Mitre 10 Cup debut for Waikato last year, following an impressive campaign with the New Zealand Under 20s side. At 1.89m and 133kg, Kautai is the best scrummager for his age in the country. The 20-year-old tighthead prop made his Investec Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs against the Stormers in Cape Town this year and has since added three more caps to his name. The Sacred Heart College graduate and Auckland age-grade representative is a very instinctive player who has an exciting future ahead of him.
Samoan-born Nepo Laulala has been a mainstay of the Chiefs forward pack this season, starting in every one of his 11 appearances this year. The Wesley College alumnus made his Investec Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2013, playing 33 games over two seasons for the southern side before moving north to join the Chiefs in 2015. That same year, Nepo Laulala was selected for the All Blacks and has played 4 Tests for the national side to date. After missing the 2016 season due to a serious knee injury, 26-year-old Laulala made his long-awaited debut for the Chiefs against the Highlanders in February this year. At 1.84m and 116kg, the hard-working Counties Manukau prop is regarded as one of the best tighthead scrummagers in the country.
Atunaisa Moli is a very talented rugby player with a lot of potential. The 1.89m and 127kg Waikato prop is equally adept on both sides of the scrum. The former New Zealand Schools representative was born in Gisborne and schooled at Marlborough Boys College. He was selected for the New Zealand Under 20s side for two consecutive seasons, captaining the side to a Junior World Championship title in 2015. A big defender and strong ball carrier, 21-year-old Moli has been a regular inclusion in the Chiefs playing-23 this year. To date Atunaisa Moli has played 25 games for the Chiefs.