Bristol Bears have confirmed the signing of star winger Ratu Naulago from Hull RFC.
The Fijian-born flyer has scored an impressive 17 tries in 21 appearances for Hull FC, including a double in the 2020 Super League campaign opener versus Leeds Rhinos.
28 year-old Naulago is a serving soldier in the British Army and has been given a temporary release from active service to pursue his opportunity in professional sport.
A statement on the club website read: “Hull FC have confirmed that Ratu Naulago will depart the club at the end of the season after agreeing a contract with a Premiership rugby union club.
He told hullfc.com: “I would like to thank Hull FC for the opportunity they gave me in professional rugby – I will always be thankful for that. I have loved my time here, everyone at the club has made me feel very welcome.
“I hadn’t considered playing anywhere else in rugby league. I have too much respect for the club and for what they have done for me, so leaving for another Super League team was never an option.’
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“This opportunity in rugby union will allow me to move back home to my wife and close friends which is really important to me. It has been a very difficult decision but it is a new challenge I am really looking forward to.”
He continued: “I am fully committed to the club for the rest of this season when we do get back playing and I am determined to do my best for the team to finish on a high, it would be fantastic to try and win something with the club.
“I would also like to thank the Army for their continued support with my rugby career which I’m extremely grateful for.”
What a full strength Bristol Bears XV might look like next season
Although many more of the 40 plus squad could make an argument for inclusion, here’s a potential Bristol Bears XV ahead of the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season.
Player whose names are in italics are players Bristol are rumoured to be interested in, but are yet to be signed.
A POTENTIAL BRISTOL BEARS XV
1. John Afoa
A World Cup-winning All Black international of 36 caps, the experienced prop joined the club in 2018.
The tight-head was named in the Gallagher Premiership team of the season in 2018/19 after another remarkable campaign in the top flight.
2. Harry Thacker
A skillful dynamo of a hooker, Thacker was added to Pat Lam’s squad for the 2018/19 season.
In an impressive debut season that included a hat-trick versus Wasps and a scintillating brace versus Tigers, Thacker was listed in the Guardian team of the year.
3. Kyle Sinckler
The 26-year-old British & Irish Lions forward will switch Premiership clubs in the summer of 2020.
Sinckler, who made his professional debut for Quins in September 2011, was a key part of England’s 2019 World Cup side but only played three minutes of the final against South Africa after being knocked unconscious in a collision with team-mate Maro Itoje.
4. Chris Vui
The 24 year-old – who can play second row or back row – earned his first cap for Samoa during the 2016 November internationals.
Vui became the youngest captain in World Rugby when he skippered Samoa in 2017, before earning a spot in the Championship team of the season.
In 2019, Vui made his debut for the Barbarians following an impressive campaign for the Bears in the Gallagher Premiership.
5. George Kruis
A decade after his debut for Saracens, the 29-year-old Lion from Guildford is understood to be considering a career move to the Far East, having been there last autumn for the World Cup.
However, if the Bears could convince Kruis to remain in the Gallagher Premiership and come to Ashton Gate, he would make their line-out imperious.