'This is a top-class signing': Kuridrani leaves Brumbies to join rival Australian club

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Two days after winning the Super Rugby AU title with the Brumbies, Test centre Tevita Kuridrani has signed with the Western Force.

His departure comes with his career at a crossroads.

The 29-year-old was dropped throughout the Super Rugby AU competition and was left out of Dave Rennie's 44-man Wallabies squad for the upcoming Test season.

Kuridrani, however, is far from old goods and will stiffen up the Force's midfield, where he's expected to form a strong partnership with one-Test Wallaby Kyle Godwin.

Indeed, he saved one of his best performances of the year for the final, where Kuridrani regularly got over the gain line and straightened the line of the attack well during the Brumbies' 28-23 win over the Queensland Reds.

“I’m really excited to be joining the Western Force and being in a new environment,” Kuridrani said in a Western Force statement .

“I played with Kyle Godwin at the Brumbies, so I’m looking forward to playing alongside him again.”

The Force's head of rugby Matt Hodgson added: "This is a top-class signing that further bolsters our midfield.

“He brings a wealth of experience, professionalism and athleticism to the squad. To have made over 60 appearances for the Wallabies and scoring 100 points is no small feat, so to have a player of Kuridrani’s stature at the Western Force is simply fantastic."

The two-time World Cup member leaves the nation's capital after playing 135 matches, where he scored 28 tries.

Kuridrani's departure from the Brumbies will allow for Wallabies bolter Len Ikitau to continue his development and the 21-year-old is the natural fit to slot into the No.13 jersey.

The bullocking centre made his debut for the Brumbies in 2012 after making the move down to the nation's capital from Brisbane.

One year later he made his debut for the Wallabies under Ewen McKenzie and was a regular under Michael Cheika too, where he wore the No.13 jersey at the 2015 World Cup including in the final where he scored against the All Blacks.

Kuridrani said it was sad to leave the Brumbies, but he was excited by his new opportunity.

“It has been a true honour to play for the Brumbies, a club that gave me a chance to play Super Rugby, and to live out my dreams," he said.

“Leaving my family in Queensland to come to Canberra was difficult, but I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made.

“I will cherish the memories I’ve made at this club forever, and I just want to thanks everyone who has made my journey with the Brumbies so special, not least the Canberra community who always made we feel at home here.

“While I’m sad to be leaving the club, I feel the time is right for me in my career to have a fresh challenge and I’m excited for my new opportunity with the Western Force."

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Brumbies coach Dan McKellar added: “On behalf of everyone here at the Brumbies, we just want to thank Tevita for everything he’s done at the club over the past nine seasons.

“He’s been a great servant for the club over the years, all the way to end where he was one of our best against the Reds on Saturday night.

“He did everything in his power to make sure he left the club on a good note, and he’s done that over the years, time and again, stepping up in big moments.

“He’s been a rock for us in that 13 jersey for a long time, his defence and his durability to go with his obvious gifts as a carrier, he’s been a huge part of what the club has achieved during his time here.

“It’s always tough to see a guy who’s contributed so much to the club leave but it’s probably the right time for Tevita to have a fresh start and we wish him all the best for the future."

Kuridrani's signing comes just a week after the announcement Wallabies prop Tom Robertson has left the Waratahs to join the Force.