The ongoing exodus of New Zealand rugby talent has had another name added to the list with Blues speedster Melani Nanai signing on with English club Worcester Warriors later this year.
Worcester confirmed the Samoan winger will join them for their next English Premiership campaign after he wraps up his commitments with the Blues in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
“I am really excited about the opportunity to test myself in the Premiership and being part of what sounds like an exciting new era for the club,” Nanai said in a statement.
“I know a couple of players at Worcester Warriors and have only heard good things. I am excited about meeting the team and working with the coaching staff at the club.
“I will be forever grateful to Auckland, the Blues and New Zealand Rugby for what they have given me since I moved to New Zealand and it will be hard leaving so many great friends, team-mates and family behind.
“My wife, Bridie, and I recently got married and we are expecting our first child, so it is going to be a very big year for my family and we are really looking forward to the start of this next chapter.”
The 25-year-old has played 49 games for the Blues since debuting in 2015, scoring 16 tries in that time.
Worcester are typically known for struggling in England’s top division and currently sit second-to-last in the competitions standings at 11th with just four wins from 13 games so far this year.
Worcester’s director of rugby Alan Solomons says he hopes Nanai’s addition will help them turn things around.
“It is fantastic news for the club that Melani will be joining us next season,” Solomons said.
“He is an absolutely class rugby player, who is equally at home on the wing or fullback. The X factor he brings will be invaluable to us as we move forward and our supporters are in for a real treat next season.”
Other Kiwi talent on Worcester’s books includes former Chiefs winger Bryce Heem, former Hurricanes lock Michael Fatialofa and Auckland-born England international Ben Te’o.