The New England Free Jacks signed Kianu Kereru-Symes for the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 23-year-old hooker (24 in February) is 5’11” and 235 lbs.
Kianu is from Māhia, New Zealand, and attended Hastings Boys’ High School. He helped the team advance to the National Top 14 final in 2016 and captained the undefeated First XV to a National Top 4 title in 2017. He represented Hawke’s Bay at all age-grade levels from U13 through U19s and made his debut for the senior National Provincial Championship side in 2018. He was honored with the Players Player of the Year award and the Rookie of the Year.
In 2016 he played for the New Zealand Barbarian Schools against both Australian and Fiji Schools. In 2019 he played for the Hurricanes U20s, as well as captaining the New Zealand U20 squad in the 2019 Oceania U20s Championship and the World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina. He also was a member of the Hurricanes Development squad.
In 2020 he was on the wider Hurricanes squad and later that year he trained with the Highlanders and Blues, playing with Blues A.
In 2022 he played with the Crusaders during the preseason and made his Super Rugby debut as a replacement against Moana Pasifika, and scored a try.
Kianu joins the Free Jacks for 2023 after playing at least 44 Mitre 10 Cup/NPC matches for Hawkes Bay.