Frank Halai: New Zealand winger to join Wasps in 2015-16
Wasps have signed New Zealand international winger Frank Halai from Auckland Blues for next season.
The 26-year-old Tonga-born winger has won one cap for the All Blacks, scoring on his debut against Japan in 2013.
"Frank is incredibly strong and powerful, with great pace," said Wasps director of rugby Dai Young.
"Being able to attract players of Frank's calibre, in their prime, is a reflection of the upward curve the club is following."
Having already signed Leinster fly-half Jimmy Gopperth and Gloucester scrum-half Dan Robson, Young - who has himself recently signed a new four-year contract with Wasps - is pleased to have put another block in place in his rebuilding plans for next season.
|A Wasps welcome for Frank "The Tank" Halai|
|Super Rugby followers in New Zealand are already familiar with what the man they call Frank "The Tank" is capable of. The 6ft 5in, 17-stone winger, who draws comparisons with the great Jonah Lomu, ran in 13 tries in 31 games for Blues in 2013, ending up as the top try scorer in the competition. He has also represented New Zealand at sevens.|
"We've made no secret of our ambition to become a top-four side," he continued. "Frank has already shown his potential playing for the All Blacks. Recruiting players of his ability will help us take another step towards that goal."
Although planning ahead, Coventry-based Wasps still have plenty to play for this season, sitting fourth in the Premiership and having now qualified for the last eight of the European Champions Cup.
It looked like they might miss out when they trailed Leinster 20-6 with 20 minutes left at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
But they came back to draw with two converted tries, and would have won had Andy Goode's last-minute drop-goal attempt not drifted just wide.
As it was, the two points from their draw and a better head-to-head record against Harlequins earned second place in Pool Two. Defeats for Toulouse and Saracens in their final group games allowed Wasps to take the second of the three best runners-up spots.
"We had a mountain to climb at half-time," said Young. "But the spirit we showed to score 14 unanswered points was enough to squeeze through.
"It is the nature of this competition that one more point could have meant a home quarter-final. But to qualify is just reward for the belief they had in each other to produce that second-half performance."