Leicester Tigers can confirm the signing of Solomone Kata ahead of the 2023/24 season.
The 28-year-old centre, who is also capable of playing on the wing, will join Tigers from Exeter Chiefs.
Born in Tonga, Kata moved to New Zealand at 16 years of age to attend Sacred Heart College in New Zealand, which boats rugby internationals Kieran Crowley, Sean Fitzpatrick, Xavier Rush and Taniela Tupou among their alumni.
He represented Tonga at age-grade level before switching to rugby league to join the Auckland-based New Zealand Warriors, who compete in the National Rugby League (NRL), in 2013.
Kata played for the Warriors Under-20s side for two seasons and made his senior Test debut for Tonga in 2014 before making his NRL debut in 2015.
In 2016, he represented New Zealand in international rugby league.
During his time in rugby league, Kata made more than 100 appearances and scored more than 50 tries.
He returned to rugby union in 2019 to join the ACT Brumbies, where he spent three years, and made his Test rugby union debut in 2021.
In 2022, Kata joined fellow Super Rugby side Moana Pasifika for one season before signing with Exeter ahead of the 2022/23 northern hemisphere season.
Incoming Leicester Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar added: “I am very excited to have Solomone joining Leicester Tigers from next season.”
“What you see is what you get with Solomone; he’s a physical, tough player, who also possesses a good skill set and offers us a genuine point of difference, in attack and defence, in the mid field.
“Importantly, Sol is a good man, who cares deeply about his teammates and I know will be a positive addition to our squad from next season.”
Discussing the move the Leicester Tigers, Kata said: “As an Island boy growing up in Tonga, the only team I ever knew of in England was Leicester Tigers after watching Alesana Tuilagi represent the club.”
“I knew back then just how big a club Leicester was and definitely dreamt of wanting to join a team that big. I mean, who wouldn’t want to join a club like Tigers?
“With Dan joining, it is very exciting to work with him again. I started my rugby career under him at the Brumbies and can’t wait to be coached by him again.
“I love the Premiership and the physicality of this competition. It is the kind of games I want to be involved in; taking on your opposition, man to man, and the way the crowds love that physicality.
“Mattioli Woods Welford Road is an unbelievable stadium with an unreal crowd, which was so loud and had so much energy in it. I can’t wait to have that ruthless support on my side.”
Kata is the sixth confirmed signing for Dan McKellar’s Leicester Tigers squad ahead of the 2023/24 campaign alongside Josh Bassett, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Kyle Hatherell, Jamie Shillcock and Finn Theobald-Thomas.