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Taranaki sign Charlie Ngatai

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    19 Dec 2013     Getty Images

. The Chiefs and Maori All Blacks representative has signed with Taranaki on an initial two-year term.

A national age grade sprint champion, Ngatai was keenly pursued by several provinces wanting to secure the skill and pace of the 23-year-old. Ultimately it was the lure of a new challenge and the opportunity to learn more from Maori All Blacks head coach Colin Cooper in the Taranaki environment which prompted Ngatai to sign with the amber and blacks.

“I have played all my ITM Cup rugby so far with Wellington and I’ve really enjoyed it, however when I heard that Taranaki was keen to have me I thought it was a great opportunity to experience a new environment and challenge myself. Also I got to work with Coops during my time with the Maori All Blacks recently and the tour was great so being able to continue developing as a player under his guidance in Taranaki was definitely a driver. I’m pretty excited to get up there to the Naki and throw myself into it” said Ngatai.

TenderLink Taranaki head coach Colin Cooper was thrilled to add Ngatai to Taranaki’s playing roster for 2014.

“We are very pleased to have Charlie on board for 2014. He is a quality player, a current Maori All Black and he has the makings of a future All Black. Charlie fills the void which was created by the departure of Jayden Hayward. Our younger players will definitely benefit from having someone with his level of experience at ITM Cup level and beyond to learn from. He’s an explosive, exciting player and we’re rapt to have him for next season” said Cooper.

Taranaki Rugby CEO Mike Collins said Ngatai was an important signing for the province.

“I’ve watched Charlie over a number of years and followed his career to date with interest. He has certainly fulfilled the promise he showed as a top school boy rugby player. It’s great he has the opportunity to link up with his former Gisborne Boys High School XV team mate Blade Thomson and we know he will be an excellent fit here. I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish Charlie all the best for his upcoming Super Rugby season with the Chiefs” said Collins.

Charlie Ngatai is Gisborne born and raised. A product of Gisborne Boys High School, Ngatai was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools side in 2007 and 2008, and was a member of the Lochore Cup winning Poverty Bay side in 2008 while still at school. In 2009 Ngatai made his ITM Cup debut for Wellington, the side he has played all his ITM Cup rugby for to date. In 2010 Ngatai was selected for the New Zealand U20 side that defended its IRB World Junior title in Argentina.

Ngatai made his Investec Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2011, playing two seasons with the side before shifting north to enjoy a strong season with the Chiefs in 2013.