All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala today confirmed he will play his Super Rugby for the Blues for the next two years.
Samoan-born Laulala, educated in Auckland at Mt Albert Grammar and Westley College, wanted to be closer to family in Auckland with his wife Loriana and son Cassius.
“My wife and I felt the time was right for us to move closer to our families in Auckland. I went to school in Auckland and our extended families are all there,” said Laulala.
“Family is so important to us and even more so for Loriana to have support when I am away.
“I want to thank the Chiefs for all they have done for me.”
It means the Blues will boast four All Black front-rowers, joining Ofa Tuungafasi, Karl Tu’inukuafe and Alex Hodgman. All four are to play in the Rugby Championship in Australia, with Laulala granted paternity leave to delay his departure across the Tasman.
“I am excited to join the Blues and get to train and play alongside Ofa, Alex and Karl and I am looking forward to working with Ben Afeaki, Tom Coventry and the rest of the coaching team.”
Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said Laulala’s move is a further boost for the team.
“Nepo is a powerful scrummager and has worked hard on improving his mobility and handling around the field,” said MacDonald.
“It will be great for the four All Blacks to feed off each other, share information and collectively push themselves to continue to improve.
“It will also give us the opportunity to keep the group fresh and excited each week.”
Laulala will continue to play for Counties-Manukau where his brothers Ray and Casey have played while Luteru is in the current Steelers squad for the Mitre-10 Cup.