Aviva Premiership
Mapusua to quit London Irish
ESPNscrum Staff
January 19, 2011
London Irish centre Seilala Mapusua touches down for a try, London Irish v Brive, Heineken Cup, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, December 19, 2009
Mapusua has opted for a move to the Kubota Spears in Japan at the end of the season © Getty Images

London Irish have been dealt a significant blow with the news that inspirational centre Seilala Mapusua will leave the club at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old Samoan, who has been one of the stars of the Aviva Premiership since joining the Exiles from the Highlanders in 2006, is set to join the Kubota Spears in Japan. Arguably one of the most astute overseas signings in Premiership history, he played in the 2009 Premiership Final when Irish lost by a point to Leicester, and helped the Exiles reach a Heineken Cup semi-final appointment with Toulouse, also at Twickenham.

"I will be sad to leave London Irish, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and have made a lot of friends on and off the field," said Mapusua, who has so far made 111 appearances for Irish, and is a past winner of the prestigious Rugby Players' Association players' player of the year award. "I would like to thank everyone for the fantastic way they have treated me and my family. I would particularly like to thank the coaches for the opportunities they have given me and the supporters for always being behind me and the squad. We will truly miss London Irish.

"All this said there is still a little while before I go and there is still a job for me to do here between now and the end of the season. My priority right now is to do everything I can to help the team to finish in a top four position in the Premiership and end the season on a high."

London Irish head coach Toby Booth hailed Mapusua's contribution at the club, a time when he established himself among the outstanding backs in European rugby "We would like to thank Seilala for all of the hard work and effort he has put in during his time with us and wish him and his family all the best for the future. He has been a tremendous, committed servant to our club, an outstanding professional and an inspiration for any player on the field. Seilala is at a stage in his career where he needs to be thinking about his next steps and the future and we completely respect that.

"Whilst we are obviously disappointed that Seilala will not be with us next season, his departure does however bring opportunities to other London Irish players and to the club in terms of recruiting new talent."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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