Naqelevuki's new deal
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has spoken of his delight after it was confirmed today that Fijian international Sireli Naqelevuki has committed his future to the Aviva Premiership club.
The 32-year-old back follows the lead of a number of his current club-mates in agreeing a new two-year contract.
Naqelevuki, who joined the Chiefs in the summer of 2010 from South African Super Rugby outfit, the Stormers, has settled well to life in England and has been a prominent figure in helping the Devon club cement their place amongst English rugby’s top clubs.
A ferocious force within the Chiefs midfield, the Suva-born back has to date made 49 appearances in all competitions and scored 13 tries in the process.
Commenting on Naqelevuki’s decision to extend his stay with the Chiefs until 2015, Baxter said: “I am genuinely delighted that Sireli has decided to stay with us for another two years. He’s been an exceptional player for us during our time in the Premiership, creating some fantastic moments and scoring tries that a majority of our supporters will never forget.
“Seeing the big guy running in with a big grin on his face and dotting down tries is great, but aside from that he’s also been a great member of the squad. He’s very popular here at the club and I still think maybe this season we’ve still not seen the best of him.
“Over the next two years I think you may see an even better Sireli Naqelevuki come to the party. He’s had a few little niggles with his knees this year – and we’ve kind of kept him ticking along – but now the time has come for him to go in for a bit of a refurb this summer and we’re hoping to see him absolutely flying at the start of next season.
“It’s a great credit to the club that a guy of his quality wants to stay and be involved in where we are heading over these next few years.”
Having done his research on the Fijian star prior to him signing for the Chiefs three years ago, Baxter says Naqelevuki has quickly established himself as a proven force within the Premiership.
“When Sireli’s on form, he’s probably as close as you are going to get to having an unstoppable force within the Premiership,” added Baxter. “That has to be our job now, we have to get him up to 100% and make sure he keeps doing what’s doing, which is enjoying his rugby, staying fit and causing problems for opposition teams.
“As I said, he’s been a key guy to what we are as a club; he’s been one of the building blocks we’ve worked around since we got into the Premiership and I am delighted he is still around.”
Meanwhile, Naqelevuki is pleased to have agreed new terms with the Chiefs, who this weekend will be hoping to book themselves a place in next season’s Heineken Cup with victory away to London Wasps.
He said: “For me it’s good to be staying here in Exeter for another two years. I’ve really enjoyed it here ever since I arrived. Life in Devon has been sweet and I really enjoy the banter and playing with the boys here at the Chiefs.
“The club is very ambitious and having done well in the Premiership and also the Heineken Cup this season, I was always very keen to stay and play more games. The guys here are very hard-working, they want to play for one another, and the future of the club looks very good.
“Playing in the Premiership is good, it’s a tough competition against some top sides, and I think I have improved my game since I came to England. Hopefully over the next two years I can add more things and help Exeter to do even better.”