March 01, 2017
Flying Fijians centre Gabrielle Lovobalavu has signed a deal with Wasps and will join the club from French relegation candidates Bayonne at the end of the current Top 14 season.
The 31-year-old, who has featured for Fiji in the last three World Cups and has appeared in 22 international matches, has spent the last four seasons with Bayonne.
He originally moved to France following the 2007 World Cup, and played 79 times alongside Toulon’s galaxy of stars prior to joining the club.
Lovobalavu said he is looking forward to his first taste of the English Premiership, and to bringing his family to the Midlands.
“I have really enjoyed my time with Bayonne and I am excited about the new challenge in England next season,” he told the club website.
“Wasps are a very ambitious club and I was attracted by the attacking rugby they play, which is a pleasure to watch, and by the chance to train in a world class environment, with world class players.”
“I’m looking forward to really challenging myself every day and taking myself out of my comfort zone, and it will also be great to experience a new culture, a new environment and a new competition.”
“I look forward to getting to know the coaches, my new teammates and the Wasps’ supporters and to settling into the town with my family.”
Wasps’ boss Dai Young said the experienced Fijian offers skills which he believes will blend well with the likes of Elliot Daly and Christian Wade, and like the departing duo should be a valuable squad member during the autumn series and the Six Nations.
“We’re very pleased to have signed another player of Gaby’s quality,” he said.
“Gaby’s comfortable playing at No.12 or No.13, which will give us more options, particularly during the international period.”
“He’s got really explosive power onto the ball, as well as good pace and the agility and footwork to beat defenders. He carries really well and has huge physicality and dynamism in defence. We expect this to really complement the pace we already have in our backline.”
Lovobalavu replaces Samoan international Alapati Leiua, who leaves the Ricoh Arena for Bristol in the summer.
By Reginald Chandar