LEINSTER HAVE ANNOUNCED the signing of tighthead prop Michael Alaalatoa ahead of next season.

The 29-year-old Samoa international will join from the Crusaders in New Zealand for pre-season training this summer.

Alaalatoa was born and raised in Sydney in Australia and made his Super Rugby debut for the Waratahs in 2014 before moving to New Zealand the following year.

Having impressed for the Manawatu provincial side, he made his Crusaders debut in 2016 and has since racked up 89 caps, helping the franchise to three Super Rugby titles and last year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa title.

Alaalatoa played for the Samoa U20s back in 2011 but only made his senior Samoa debut last year, qualifying through his father, Vili, who also represented the nation in Test rugby.

The most recent of Alaalatoa’s five Samoa caps was against Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Alaalatoa’s younger brother, 27-year-old Allan, is a key man for the Brumbies and Australia.

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With stalwart tighthead prop Michael Bent set to leave the province this summer, Leinster had been searching for a new signing in the position.

Frontline tighthead pair Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter are regularly away on Ireland duty, while Leinster 25-year-old Vakh Abdaladze has only just returned from a long-term back injury.

Alaalatoa played for Samoa at the 2019 World Cup. Source: Rodrigo Reyes Marin

21-year-old tighthead Thomas Clarkson is part of the province’s academy but has featured at senior level this season. Young tightheads Roman Salanoa and Jack Aungier left the province last summer, joining Munster and Connacht, respectively. 

“We are very excited by Michael’s arrival in the coming months,” said Leinster head coach Leo Cullen of the new signing.

“He is a player with top quality Super Rugby and international experience and he is hungry for further success and to play a part in building on the work that is already underway here.

“We have a group of younger props who will only benefit from his experience and we believe the wider group will also learn a lot from Michael and his rugby knowledge from playing with the Crusaders in particular.

“We look forward to welcoming him and his family to the club later this summer.”

Alaalatoa, who has made five starts for the Crusaders in this year’s ongoing Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, is looking forwards to his move.

“It is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to join Leinster Rugby,” said Alaalatoa.

“They have enjoyed a lot of success for a long time and have produced a lot of Irish internationals which speaks highly of their rugby programme and team culture.

“It is something that I am really excited about being a part of and I am looking forward to starting a new adventure in Dublin with my family.”