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Halavatua set to leave the Bees for London Irish

04 March 2011

  • Prop signs for London Irish from the start of 2011/12 season
  • Leo crucial in Bee's relegation play-off campaign
Leo Halavatua will join London Irish next season

Photo: RFU Archive

Leo Halavatua is set to swap life in RFU Championship for the bright lights of the Aviva Premiership next season, as it was officially confirmed today that he would be leaving Birmingham & Solihull for London Irish.

Rosario - or Leo, as he is affectionately known - joined the Bees back in 2006 and in the last two seasons has made a positional change from No.8 to prop. Such has been his progress, that the 27-year-old Tongan quickly attracted the attention of several Premiership Clubs in his new-found front row berth, with London Irish securing his signature for the 2011/12 season.

Leo’s rapid rise in stature as a player is no surprise to Bees’ Director of Rugby Russell Earnshaw, who said: "Leo's forced elevation to prop last season has been followed by an incredibly steep learning curve. The improvement he has shown has been nothing short of remarkable and due in no small part to his own work ethic and the contribution of our more senior front-row players.

"In particular, Ngalu, Mash and Ross have been fantastic mentors and must take some of the credit for what is a great opportunity for Leo to continue this progress. As a Championship club, player development is high on our agenda and we are rightly proud of the value we have added here."

Leo: "I will miss everyone at the Bees"

Speaking at the announcement, Leo Halavatau said: “I am obviously delighted to have the opportunity to move to a Club like London Irish and with it the prospect of playing Premiership rugby. However, I will miss everyone at the Bees – the players, the coaching staff and the fans - who have been great with me and my family and have really helped me develop my rugby.

"It has been great working with front row veterans like Ngalu Tau and Matt Long, who have really helped me in improving the technical side of my game in recent seasons.”

Leo still has important work to do for the Bees yet, as the Club prepares for its second successive Relegation Playoff campaign.

“I have no doubt that Leo will want to make his usual impact and contribution over the next six matches, to help Birmingham & Solihull once again retain our Championship status for next season,” Earnshaw added.

The Bees kick off their Championship Relegation campaign against Esher on Sunday, March 13 at Damson Park (ko 1pm).