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Falcons swoop for Kolo'ofai

Tonga lock Uili Kolo'ofai has signed a two-year contract with Newcastle, switching from French club Colomiers.

The Falcons recruited the 31-year-old after Semisi Taulava's move from Worcester fell through owing to a failed medical, also confirming Mick Hogan as their new managing director.

Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards expects Kolo'ofai to increase competition across the back-five of the Falcons' pack.

"I'm very pleased to welcome Uili to the Falcons," said Richards of the one-cap second rower.

"He is a versatile forward and I'm looking forward to him making a valuable contribution to the team's performances next season.

"I like what I have seen of him to date and expect him to increase the competition for places at lock and in the back-row, which will in turn drive forward the standards within the squad."

Newcastle's former commercial director Hogan is now back at the club full-time, after working as a commercial consultant for the last six months.

Hogan has worked for Wigan Warriors, Sale Sharks and Rugby World Cup since his last full-time stint at Kingston Park.

"I'm delighted that Mick has taken up this new role at Newcastle Falcons, he has considerable experience in both codes of rugby," said Newcastle owner Semore Kurdi.

"I'm looking forward to Mick, working with the rest of the senior management team, growing the club.

"Given that the Rugby World Cup is just over a year away these are very exciting times for Newcastle Falcons and the sport of rugby in the north east.

"With Mick's leadership I'm confident that the club will be able to fully realise this tremendous opportunity and become a far stronger organisation."

Worcester loose-forward Taulava had been expected to make a big impact on Tyneside following two years with the Warriors.

The cancellation of the 31-year-old's switch will prove a blow to Newcastle's bid to bolster resources for their second season back in the Aviva Premiership.

Boss Richards has signed his former Leicester charges Alesana and Anitelea Tuilagi, as well as highly-rated Bristol scrum-half Ruki Tipuna among a host of other recruits.

Newcastle have moved swiftly to offset the loss of Taulava with Kolo'ofai's capture, from France's Pro Division Two.

New Zealand-born Kolo'ofai turned out for Otago in ITM Cup action before joining Coca Cola Red West Sparks in Japan in 2009.

Stints with Italian clubs Crociati Parma and Cavalieri Prato followed, leading to his Colomiers move in 2012.

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