Lions lose their Tongans but big signings are on the horizon

GONE . . . Semisi Sitanislei Tei. Pictures: Mick Sutterby
GONE . . . Semisi Sitanislei Tei. Pictures: Mick Sutterby
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Peterborough Lions are launching a worldwide recruitment drive as they prepare for life in the National League.

The city side won promotion to National League Division Two North last season - the fourth tier of English club rugby - and they are determined to remain at that lofty level.

GONE . . . Vaha Halaifanua.

GONE . . . Vaha Halaifanua.

So to that end they are busy searching for new players to strengthen their squad - and the search has already taken them to Argentina and Australia.

“We will hopefully be signing a scrum-half from Argentina and two very promising youngsters from Australia,” said club chairman Andy Moore.

“They should be arriving in this country in August and we will be revealing their identity then.

“We’ve also got our eye on a second row from Ampthill and a couple of new hookers.

GONE . . . Niko Moa.

GONE . . . Niko Moa.

“We certainly don’t intend coming straight back down again so strengthening and increasing the size of our squad is imperative .”

That is certainly the case seeing as the three Tongan players who starred in the promotion-winning campaign won’t be coming back.

They were top try-scorer and speedy centre Semisi Sitanislei Tei, hooker Niko Moa and number eight Vaha Halaifanua.

“Unfortunately they don’t have the right sort of visas to play in the National League,” said Moore. “The new level we’re at is classed as fully professional and that makes a difference to them.

New backs coach Jonathan Hill.

New backs coach Jonathan Hill.

“It’s a shame because they did a great job for us. Hopefully their replacements will be just as good if not better.

“We know we’ll need a bigger squad next season to cover for injuries so we are reintroducing our Development XV.”

Centre Jonathan Hill, who missed a lot of last season through injury, will become the new backs coach.

The Lions have two cracking pre-season friendlies already lined up.

On Saturday August 11 they will be at home to London Premier Division side Civil Service 1863 and then on August 25 they will play top Welsh club Merthyr away.

Merthyr are the Welsh Principality Premier Division champions coached by former Wales internationals Lee Jarvis and Dale McIntosh.