Sekope Kepu

Moana Pasifika confirm signing of Wallabies centurion Sekope Kepu

A veteran of 16 years of professional rugby experience, Kepu joins the new expansion side from Counties Manukau after joining the province for the 2021 NPC season.

The Covid-19 outbreak in New Zealand’s northern regions in recent months restricted the 35-year-old to just two appearances for the Steelers before Counties Manukau, as well as Auckland and North Harbour, were omitted from the remainder of the provincial campaign.

London Irish confirm Sekope Kepu has left club for 'personal reasons'

But his time with the Exiles is now up, with the club confirming the news via a short statement.

“London Irish can confirm Sekope Kepu has left the club due to personal reasons,” the statement read.

“Kepu outlined the nature of his predicament to Director of Rugby, Declan Kidney, over recent weeks and this weekend confirmed that he felt he had no option but to return to New Zealand citing personal family health reasons – which will remain private – for his decision.”

Wallabies centurion Sekope Kepu to retire from international rugby after RWC

The 33-year-old Kepu, who last year became the first prop to play 100 Tests for Australia, announced on Monday his plans to step down from international rugby.

It brings to an end his ties to Australian rugby after quitting the NSW Waratahs to play with UK club London Irish after the global tournament in Japan, which starts later this month.

Kepu is set to farewell fans at the Wallabies' final World Cup warm-up game, against Samoa at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium on Saturday.

Big Polynesian influence in Wallabies

The senior figure of the group is 33-year-old Kepu, of Tongan descent, who has amassed 105 caps, a record for a Wallabies prop.

When Australia won their first World Cup in 1991, the team included Tongan-born powerhouse Willie Ofahengaue.

Eight years later, the triumphant 1999 Wallabies side included another explosive backrower of Tongan heritage in Toutai Kefu.

But Ofahengaue and Kefu were the only Polynesians in their respective starting XVs.

Kepu to join London Irish after World Cup

Irish, who will join the English Premiership next season after winning promotion, announced the signing of the Test centurion on social media on Monday night. 

Kepu has been a mainstay of Australian Test rugby and the Waratahs for more than a decade, playing 135 Super Rugby matches and 103 Test matches.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said Kepu would leave a hole at the Waratahs, but also had provided a strong foundation for the next generation to develop.