Tonga’uiha signs three year deal with Saints

Northampton Saints have ended speculation about Soane Tonga’uiha’s move to Saracens by announcing that he has signed a new three-year contract with the club.

As well as being the top try scoring prop in England this season – with two in the Guinness Premiership and another in the LV= Cup – he is unique by being the only man in his position to be in the league’s top 10 ball carriers and offload providers.

He has also been one of the most regular names on the Saints team sheet in 2009/10, having missed out on just one matchday squad in all competitions. Just two of his 28 appearances have come off the bench and he has collected three man of the match awards – including two in seven days in the LV= Cup semi-final and final – and a Let Yourself Grow Player of the Month award last September.

The East Midlands has become Tonga’uiha’s home from home. His first English club was Bedford and he moved up the A428 to Franklin’s Gardens in the summer of 2006. As well as passing his hundredth appearance at the start of 2010 he has picked up winners’ medals in the LV= Cup, European Challenge Cup and from the Saints’ undefeated season in 2007/08.

“I’m very happy to sign again with Saints,” Tonga’uiha said. “It has been my decision and my decision alone to stay. The success of the club over the last few months has been a big thing to be a part of and very enjoyable.

“The coaches and the fitness department have worked hard and this played a massive part in me deciding to stay. We’re also very settled in the area as a family, which means a lot to me as well.

“We’re a team that plays for each other and we stick together on and off the pitch. We’re still on the up. Hopefully we’ve got a chance of getting some more medals this season and I think that the club will be achieving great things in the future. We’re going places, setting targets and aiming for silverware, but still taking it one game at a time.”

“Soane is one of the focal points of the team on the field,” said director of rugby Jim Mallinder. “He is a difficult man to stop and puts us on the front foot when he has the ball in his hands. But he has also worked on his basics and his fitness and is a powerful performer in the set piece.

“It is no surprise that other clubs in the league wanted Soane to play for them and I am delighted that ultimately he has chosen to stay with us and sign a new contract with the Saints.”

“Saracens are obviously disappointed that Soane will not be joining them next season after all,” said Saints chief executive Allan Robson.

“However, their criticism of the player and Saints is totally without merit. Soane had strong personal reasons for his change of heart. Once he had made this known to us and he was able to confirm that in fact he had not signed a contract with Saracens and was free to sign with Saints we did not hesitate to offer him a deal to keep him at Saints for the next three seasons.

“Like everyone at the club I am delighted he is staying with us. Since he arrived Soane has been very popular with the fans and I am confident that he will continue to be a big player for Jim Mallinder and the coaches. His decision is a boost for the whole club as we enter the crucial last weeks of this season and build for the future.”

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