Amps snap up hooker Lutui in preparation for debut National 1 campaign

Aleki Lutui
Aleki Lutui

Tongan & Pacific Islanders international hooker Aleki Lutui has become the first new signing ahead of Ampthill’s 2015/16 National 1 campaign.

Born in Tofoa, 36-year-old Lutui has 43 caps for Tonga – including during the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups – and has formerly played for Waikato Chiefs in the Super 12, Worcester Warriors in the Premiership, and Edinburgh Reivers in the Rabo Pro Direct.

I am pleased and excited to join Ampthill’s rugby journey where I intend to further the contribution made by my fellow Tongans who speak so highly of the club.

Aleki Lutui

He joins from Premiership outfit Gloucester, in what is a big coup for Ampthill ahead of their debut National 1 campaign.

Capped seven times for the Pacific Islanders, Lutui’s 6ft, 110kg frame has seen him become renowned for his ball carrying and abrasive tackling at every level.

Capable of playing at loosehead prop as well as hooker, he will strengthen Ampthill’s front row options for the step up to level 3 rugby.

Lutui’s career includes 278 appearances in first class rugby – 36 for the Chiefs, 168 for the Warriors, 15 for the Reivers and 14 for Gloucester.

Ampthill director of rugby Mark Lavery was understandably thrilled with the acquisition, saying: “I am delighted Aleki has chosen Ampthill, from a number of options, to continue his career. He will bring dynamic power and significant international experience to the forward pack.

“I think Aleki’s decision was made easier by the presence of a number of his former international colleagues at Ampthill, all of whom have contributed much to the club’s development over the past few years.”

Lutui added: “I am pleased and excited to join Ampthill’s rugby journey where I intend to further the contribution made by my fellow Tongans who speak so highly of the club.”

Meanwhile, the club will travel to Normandy to play Stade Rouennais in a pre-season fixture on Saturday, August 22.

Rouen, currently coached by Richard Hill, former England scrum-half and Worcester Warriors head coach, finished top of Pool 2 in Federale 2 which is Level 4 in the French rugby hierarchy and are now involved in the playoffs that decide promotion.

The town is one hour east of Le Havre and two hours south of Calais.

The following week, Ampthill host Pontypool in their final pre-season fixture before their first National 1 league game.