Northampton Saints sign Auckland Blues centre

Northampton Saints have confirmed that they have signed Samoan international and Blues Super Rugby centre George Pisi ahead of the 2011/12 season.

Pisi, a 24-year-old centre, joins the Saints after making a reputation as a fast, skilful and powerful player with Auckland-based Super Rugby outfit The Blues. After five years at North Harbour, Pisi impressed in the 2010 ITM Cup while playing for Taranaki.

Although regarded highly as a counter-attacking full back, Pisi finished the year as Samoa’s first choice outside centre, making his debut in the Pacific Nations Cup in June and starting against Ireland, England and Scotland during the Autumn Internationals.

Pisi will finish the 2010/11 season at Top 14 team Clermont Auvergne, where he has been drafted in as a medical joker for the final third of the French domestic season. But he is looking forward to joining the Saints full-time next season.

“It’s an awesome club,” he said. “I’ve admired the people who have been through it. It’s a great family club and it’s a great place for me to start my own family over there. I’ve been watching how the Saints have been going. They’ve been playing well and come along from last year and I feel that the team is building every year for higher honours.

“Playing against Chris Ashton and Ben Foden in the Autumn was awesome and it’ll be exciting to get the chance to play with them in England. Taranaki have been good to me and it’s hard to leave them, but it’s an opportunity for me to have a new life in Northampton with my fiancé Jessica.

“Hopefully playing at Clermont will be good for me. The more rugby I play the better I get, so when I come back for Taranaki, then hopefully the World Cup with Samoa, I’ll be able to hit the ground running when I get to Northampton.”

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that Pisi is a good addition to the Saints squad.

“George has improved a lot over the past year or so and we were impressed with what we’ve seen of him playing for Samoa in the Autumn and Taranaki in the ITM Cup,” he said.

He’s a strong runner who likes to play with the ball in hand and although he played for Samoa at centre he is comfortable in a number of positions, which will be good for our squad as a whole.”

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