Force sign Nikoro and Nemani for two seasons



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The Western Force have added to their backline playing stocks for the 2015/6 Super Rugby seasons with the addition of former Blues winger/fullback Albert Nikoro, and former Chiefs and Highlanders winger Tino Nemani.

The newly-recruited pair, who have both signed for two seasons, brings further attacking class to the Force’s outside backs that already includes Luke Morahan, Dane Haylett-Petty, Kyle Godwin, Marcel Brache and Patrick Dellit.

Western Force Head Coach, Michael Foley, says the signings of Nemani and Nikoro continue a targeted recruitment strategy for the 2015 season.

“Our squad planning for 2015 has focused on three key areas,” he said.

“Firstly, rewarding a number of younger players who have earnt opportunities through their performances on and off the field during the 2014 season. Secondly, we’ve targeted the recruitment of a ball-running lock/back-rower and finally, we’ve looked to add depth in our outside backs.

“Signing Stevie Mafi after four seasons in the UK was a big plus and we’ve followed that with two young and exciting talents like Albert and Tino, who’ve had some Super Rugby experience.

“Albert and Tino are both fast with the ability to beat defenders. Importantly, through discussions with both players they’ve displayed humility and an eagerness to learn and improve. Tino is a powerful winger who is very physical both with ball-in-hand and in defence and while Albert also has a strong running game, he is a goal kicker that can play 13, 15 and wing.”

Tino Nemani joins the Force from ITM Cup side, Bay of Plenty, having previously represented the Chiefs and Highlanders in Asteron Life Super Rugby.

The powerful winger represented the New Zealand Schoolboys in 2009, and the Fijian Under 20 side at the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship, alongside Western Force centre, Junior Rasolea.

Nemani says he’s looking forward to working towards adding to his seven Asteron Life Super Rugby appearances.

“I’m excited about joining the Force and getting into Super Rugby again,” he said. “I’ve played with Junior and Alby [Mathewson] before. I asked Junior about the team culture, playing at the Force and living in Perth, and he said he loved it which made signing very easy.

“I’d like to think I can bring some aggression and an attacking mindset to the team with my style of play. They had a mean season this year and I’d love to do anything that helps that next season.

“The best thing about the Force last year was their team play. They’d had some pretty quiet seasons before that but last year you could really see they wanted to play as a team.”

Albert Nikoro heads across the Tasman to join the Force having been a member of the Blues’ Asteron Life Super Rugby squad for the past three seasons. In a period disrupted by a knee injury, the 22-year-old played five caps for the Blues and has represented Waikato in this season’s ITM Cup, having represented Auckland for the previous two seasons.

Nikoro made his debut for the Mt Albert Grammar School 1st XV as a 14-year-old in 2007, in a side that finished runners-up in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Top 4 competition, before claiming the title in 2010 when he went on to represent the New Zealand Schoolboys.

Nikoro says he’s looking forward to being a part of the Western Force in 2015.

“I’m really excited about joining the Force; it’s a great opportunity for me and there’s a lot of talent that I’m really excited play and train with,” he said.

“From the outside, you could tell that the Force was a tight group last season. There was an understanding between each other of how they wanted to play and that they wanted to play for each other. They looked like a good ‘team’ and one I’m excited to be a part of.”

The Western Force will commence pre-season training on Monday, 1 December.

Name: Maritino (Tino) Nemani

Born: 25/5/1991, Nadivakarua (Fiji)
Position: Wing
Height: 181cm
Weight: 104kg
Super Rugby caps: 7
Super Rugby points: 0
Super Rugby debut: 2012 (Chiefs) v Sharks, Durban

Representative Rugby: 2013-2014 Bay of Plenty (ITM Cup), 2013 Highlanders, 2012 Chiefs, 2011-2012 Hawke’s Bay (ITM Cup), 2010 Fiji Under 20, 2009 New Zealand Schoolboys

Name: Albert Nikoro
Born: 7/8/1992, Auckland (New Zealand)
Position: Wing/fullback/outside centre
Height: 184cm
Weight: 95kg
Super Rugby caps: 5
Super Rugby points: 3 (1 penalty)
Super Rugby debut: 2012 (Blues) v Brumbies, Canberra

Representative Rugby: 2014 Waikato (ITM Cup), 2013 Auckland (ITM Cup), 2012 Tasman (ITM Cup), 2012-2014 Auckland Blues, 2010 New Zealand Schoolboys

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