London Welsh have moved to further strengthen their front row options with the signing of Auckland hooker Nathan Vella.

The 23-year-old broke into Auckland’s ITM Cup squad in 2011, and the following year helped them go on to reach the final.

This year he was part of the side that made the semi-finals.

Vella, who can also play blindside flanker, has been capped 14 times by Auckland in the ITM Cup, scoring one try.

Born in Henderson, New Zealand, Vella is EQP qualified through his grandfather who was born in Tolworth, Surrey.

London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said Vella’s signing was another statement of intent.

“Nathan’s a big man and he’s very mobile, and he certainly has that New Zealand mind-set,” he said.

“He’s very physical and he’s got a tremendous work-rate.”