Tuqiri switches Leicester for Australia’s Tigers

Fiji-born Australia wing Lote Tuqiri Thursday announced he would switch codes and countries, leaving England’s Leicester for a three-year contract with Australian rugby league club Wests Tigers.

Tuqiri, who signed with Leicester just three months ago, said he would return to Australia in March to begin his National Rugby League (NRL) contract with Sydney’s Wests.

“There is no question the NRL is one of the toughest sporting competitions in the world and I am confident Wests Tigers will enjoy great success in the coming years,” Tuqiri said in a statement.

“The opportunity to play under the most experienced coach in the game in Tim Sheens was a major factor in my decision. Wests Tigers is a club with a great culture and a terrific roster of players. I am thrilled to be joining them.”

Tuqiri, 30, has played both league and union for Australia but has not been involved with the Wallabies since his central contract was cancelled in July over an alleged code of conduct breach.

He switched from league to union in 2002 and has scored 31 tries in 67 Tests for Australia, and has received numerous lucrative offers from union clubs in Europe.

“I enjoyed my time in rugby union immensely and have been very fortunate to have made many great friends through my time in the code,” Tuqiri said.

Sheens said a player of Tuqiri’s calibre would be a “great addition to an already impressive squad of talented players”.

“I know one of the main driving reasons behind Lote’s decision is that he is very keen to break back into representative footy, something other players coming back from rugby union have been unable to do of late,” he added.

Wests Tigers were admitted to the NRL in 2000 and won their first and only premiership in 2005.

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