The curious case of Napolioni Nalaga

Date published: May 27 2015

It was supposed to be one of the big transfers of the upcoming Top 14 off-season. But instead of landing at Toulon, Clermont winger Napolioni Nalaga will play for relegated Lyon next season.

Nalaga has finished three Top 14 seasons as the leading try scorer in the past, breaking the record with 20 tries in 19 games in 2008-09, so the announcement that he is headed for the ProD2 came as a shock to many.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has clarified the situation regarding the Fijian try machine, who had inked a three-year contract deal with the European champions in December.

With Josua Tuisova in red-hot form and offered a four-year contract extension by RCT, a place in Toulon's star studded starting team was far from guaranteed for Nalaga.

Rumours had been circulating in the French press that Toulon were set to do a U-turn on Nalaga's deal because it had been signed after the set deadline. But with current Toulon backs coach Pierre Mignoni heading to Lyon as head coach next season and looking for quality players to help the club return to the top division, a common solution was found.

"Nalaga had indeed signed a contract with RCT," said Boudjellal

"But it turns out that since then Josua Tuisova's form has exploded. We put our heads together.

"We were perfectly aware that if we want to keep Josua in Toulon, we have to give him game time, so we sought a solution with Nalaga.

"We spoke to his agent and obviously with Pierre Mignoni since Lyon had actually told us they were interested in the profile of Fijian.

"I then gave the green light for them to commence discussions by explaining that we would free him if an agreement was found, which was done. So we released him.

"This solved our Tuisova problem and at the same time freed up a non-French player contract place in our squad.

"James O'Connor has confirmed that he is returning next season and with Drew Mitchell, Bryan Habana and Tuisova, we are sorted."

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Toulon confirmed that 21-year-old Tuisova, who has scored seven tries in seven starts this season has inked a new three-year contract.