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Page last updated at 11:19 GMT, Tuesday, 22 February 2011

London Irish sign Bath & England centre Shontayne Hape

Shotayne Hape
Hape scored five tries in 42 games for Bath

London Irish have signed England centre Shontayne Hape from Bath.

The 30-year-old former New Zealand rugby league international has agreed a two-year deal with the Exiles, which will begin at the start of next season.

Irish head coach Toby Booth said: "I have been very impressed with Shontayne since his move to rugby union.

"We have a lot of young talent coming through the club and the experience that Shontayne brings will also help them to develop further."

Hape moved to The Rec in a cross-code switch from Bradford Bulls in 2008.

His time with the Bulls helped him qualify to play rugby union for England on residency grounds, and he won the first of his eight caps against Australia in June 2010.

With his deal at Bath due to expire at the end of this season, the Somerset club's chief executive Nick Blofeld admitted on Friday that Hape could be set to exit.

And he now make the move to the Madejski Stadium to fill the void left by Samoan Seilala Mapusua, who will play his rugby in Japan next season.

"He is physically very intimidating, and his ability to off-load out of the tackle will trouble any defence," added Booth.

Hape has played in both of England's Six Nations fixtures this season and has been included in the squad for Saturday's game with France at Twickenham.

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