Connacht have announced the signing of Irish-qualified Api Pewhairangi, who is 23 and played for Ireland at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Api Pewhairangi played rugby union as a youth in Manawatu but switched to rugby league at the age of 17 when he moved to Wellington’s Te Aroha Eels. He has since played for Parramatta Eels and, most recently, New Zealand Warriors.
Pewhairangi, whose grandmother was from Lucan, Co. Dublin, represented Ireland in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. He had previously represented the Junior Kiwis.
Speaking about his move to Connacht, Pewhairangi said: “I am proud to be returning to Ireland, my grandmother’s homeland. Joining Connacht is extremely exciting for me and I want to make a big impact.”
Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane commented: “Api Pewhairangi is an exciting addition to the squad. Api was incredibly proud to wear the green shirt of Ireland in the Rugby League World Cup and I have no doubt that he will wear the green shirt of Connacht Rugby with the same pride.”
The province’s head coach Pat Lam added: “At 23, Api has already achieved a lot on and off the field. He has played in the tough NRL competition, represented Ireland in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
“He is keen for a new challenge in transitioning back to rugby union where he spent his youth playing. With our big focus on skill development and continued learning and understanding of the game here at Connacht Rugby, I have no doubt he will have a great opportunity to meet his challenge head on.
“His professional rugby league experience will add another skill-set to the squad and we look forward to him joint the squad for pre-season.”