Exeter Chiefs: Tonga international Solomone Kata inks one-year deal at Premiership giants

Exeter Chiefs have announced the signing of powerful Tongan international outside back Solomone Kata ahead of the Premiership campaign.

Kata becomes the Chiefs’ fifth new signing of the off-season as he joins Jack Dunne, Rory O’Loughlin, Aidon Davis and Ruben van Heerden in arriving.

The 27-year-old has inked an initial one-year contract and joins the English giants from Super Rugby Pacific outfit Moana Pasifika ahead of 2022/23.

Rugby league convert

Tongan-born, he moved to New Zealand in 2011 and played rugby league for the New Zealand Warriors and then Melbourne Storm, before a code switch.

Kata spent two impressive seasons with the Brumbies in Australia before heading to Moana Pasifika ahead of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

He admits he cannot wait to put on the Exeter jersey as they start their Premiership season with a game against holders Leicester Tigers on September 10.

“It’s a big move for me and my family,” he told Exeter’s website. “Coming in today, the boys have been very welcoming and I’m really looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“I’ve watched a few games and I know it’s really physical here in the UK. I like that, it plays to my strengths. I don’t have a fancy step or anything like that, I just like to go through people and enjoy the contact. Apart from that, I don’t know too much more about what to expect!”

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter is thrilled to have confirmed the move for Kata, who he feels will add plenty to his midfield this term.

“He’s explosive, he’s dangerous and he’s a quality player,” said Baxter. “Obviously, he’s just got in so he will take a few days to get up to speed, but you can tell by meeting him that he’s already settling in well to the group and will give us those options we need in midfield.

Strong midfield option

“It’s no secret that Ollie Devoto is still some way away from returning, Henry [Slade] and Hendo [Tom Hendrickson] are still recovering from operations too, so we were looking a bit thin in that area. That said, when a guy of Sol’s quality comes onto the market, we had a good look at him – we liked what we saw – and we’ve brought him here. It’s over to him now to get on the field and show us what he can do.

“Talking to him, you get that feeling that he’s up for a new challenge. He’s here now and he’s ready to go. In an ideal world, we would have liked to have signed him for more than a year, but he said ‘I’ll take the year, I’ll take my chance’ because he does think he will take-off over here. We will see what happens then.

“Personally, I quite like that because he is challenging himself to come over here and go really well. Already I’m looking forward to seeing him on the field because I do believe he will offer us something a bit different.”

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