Exeter Chiefs sign Connacht winger Fetu'u Vainikolo

Fetu'u Vainikolo

Exeter Chiefs have signed Tonga international winger Fetu'u Vainikolo from Connacht on a two-year contract.

The 28-year-old, who has won seven caps for his country, comes in as Mark Foster, Josh Tatupu and Gonzalo Camacho all leave Sandy Park.

Exeter have also signed to add to Matt Jess and rising England Under-20 star Jack Nowell.

"He was maybe off a few people's radar, but he's a high-quality player," said Exeter boss Rob Baxter.

"We've looked at a lot of his games and the key for us is we think 'this is where he is now, playing for Connacht, where would he be playing within our system and getting the touches on the ball we would hope they would get if they played with us?'

"He's a guy who's scoring tries and having game-breaking moments without always seeing that much of the ball.

"For us it's about how much more we can potentially get him in the game, if he's more involved in the game how many more of those moments will he have?"

Vainikolo started all six of Connacht's Heineken Cup matches this season,

He has also played 17 Pro12 games this season and scored seven tries in the two years he has been in Galway since moving from New Zealand's Highlanders.

"We see him coming in and working in a very good group of back-three players that we've got now," said Baxter.

"Matt Jess had fantastic season, Jack Nowell is really starting to shine and come through and we've got Tom James coming in, who is a really good finisher and very good at beating that first defender.

"Fetu'u will fit in there and make a real fight with those guys having a bit of everything - steppy, quick, powerful but can also have an X-factor about him.

"We want to make it very competitive in as many positions as we can on the pitch.

"It's going to be difficult picking starting players out of that group. You look how Matt Jess and Nowellsy have been playing these last few weeks, you're going to have to be a pretty good winger to break in there."