Tongan prop Eddie Aholeilei signs for Aviva Premiership new boys London Welsh
Last Updated: 14/07/14 4:25pm
Tongan prop Eddie Aholeilei has become the latest player to sign for London Welsh, as Justin Burnell's men continue to boost their survival hopes.
The 32-year-old, who joined from Super 15 side Melbourne Rebels, is the 22nd signing of the summer for the Exiles.
I know London Welsh has a very proud history and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Aholeilei’s signing follows on the heels of the high-profile capture of former All Black scrum-half Piri Weepu.
Burnell, who has completely revamped his squad since beating Bristol to gain promotion to the Aviva Premiership, said he had been trailing Aholeilei for some time.
"I watched him first-hand against Wales in the autumn at the Millennium Stadium," said head coach Burnell.
"He's got Super 15 experience, is a very big powerful man and is another excellent addition to our squad for next season."
The versatile front-rower, who can play on either side of the scrum, has won six caps for Tonga and joins international team-mate Taione Vea at Kassam Stadium.
Super Rugby experience
Aholeilei moved to Sydney as a teenager, racking up more than 200 appearances for Manly Marlins between 2001 and 2013 while stepping up to Super 15 level with the Rebels in 2012.
Gearing up for his Premiership switch, Aholeilei said: "I would like to thank London Welsh for giving me this opportunity.
"I am honoured and humbled to be heading to England to represent the club in what is undoubtedly one of the toughest domestic competitions in world rugby.
"I know London Welsh has a very proud history and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead.
"The move represents a fantastic chance for me to enjoy a fresh start and for my family to experience a different country and culture."
World Cup-winning scrum-half Weepu and ex-England playmaker Barkley represent Welsh's most high-profile recruits of a hectic off-season, with former Sale and Worcester lock Dean Schofield also in the fold.