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Shontayne Hape to make Irish switch

22 February 2011

  • Shontayne Hape agrees to two year deal with London Irish
  • He's a player I have been very impressed with – Tony Booth
England centre Shontayne Hape

Photo: Getty Images

England centre Shontayne Hape has signed a two-year contract with Aviva Premiership club London Irish.

The former Bradford Bulls rugby league player will join the Exiles from Premiership rivals Bath at the end of this season.

Hape, 29, has won eight England caps and is set to feature in Saturday's RBS Six Nations clash against France at Twickenham this coming weekend.

New Zealand-born Hape qualifies to play for England on residency grounds, and he forced his way into Martin Johnson's plans with a series of impressive performances in Bath colours.

But a move to Irish had been trailed for some time, and Bath's recent recruitment of centre Dan Hipkiss from Leicester did nothing to quell speculation.

Hape has so far scored six tries in 58 appearances for Bath, the club he joined from Bradford in 2008. He spent six seasons with the Bulls and also won international rugby league honours with New Zealand.

England centre Shontayne Hape

Photo: Gettty Images

Hape made his England debut on tour in Australia last summer, and played throughout this season's autumn Test series before retaining his place for the Six Nations appointments with Wales and Italy.

His arrival at Irish is set to see him fill the midfield vacancy created by Samoan Seilala Mapusua, who will play his club rugby in Japan next term.

"Shontayne is a player I have been very impressed with since his move to rugby union," said London Irish head coach Toby Booth.

"He is physically very intimidating, and his ability to off-load out of the tackle will trouble any defence.

"We have a lot of young talent coming through the club, and the experience that Shontayne brings will also help them to develop further."

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