'Sleepless' Fekitoa joins Toulon's World Cup brigade

Toulon (France) (AFP) –


New Zealand World Cup winner Malakai Fekitoa became the latest high-profile star to join Toulon on Thursday when the centre signed a two-year deal with the three-time European champions, even if the switch has caused him sleepless nights.

The 25-year-old, part of the All Blacks squad to win the 2015 World Cup, follows in the footsteps of compatriots Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams and Ali Williams who have all played for the French giants.

"It's a great feeling of pride when you sign an All Black, especially when he is a world champion," said Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal who had agreed a deal with Fekitoa in August.

Fekitoa, who has won 24 caps for the All Blacks but has slipped down the selection pecking order, is expected to make his Top 14 debut against Agen next week although he has still to pass a medical.

"I haven't played for two weeks but I feel good physically, I'm ready to play. When I saw the guys training this morning, it made me want to join them," the 1.87m and 99kg centre told a news conference.

"I didn't sleep the week before I left, I was very nervous about my arrival," added the former Highlanders back.

"A lot of things were going around in my head -- the change of team, the language, country, culture. I also thought about the move and especially about my career.

"But in coming to Toulon, I would like to progress, become a better rugby player and help the club."

However, Fekitoa admits that his move to Europe means his international career has been left at a crossroads with just two years before the next World Cup.

"It was a very difficult decision to take, but I realise that a rugby career is very short," the Tongan-born player added.

"I know that by discovering a new culture, new people, a new rugby, I am going to become a better player but especially a better person.

"For me, Toulon is the best place to progress and to grow."