Chiefs centre Charlie Ngatai joins Taranaki
December 19, 2013
Charlie Ngatai has played ITM Cup to this point only for Wellington Lions © Getty Images
Charlie Ngatai has joined Taranaki from Wellington Lions, the Chiefs and Maori All Blacks centre moving from the ITM Cup Premiership runners-up on a two-year term.
Ngatai said the lure of a new challenge and the opportunity to learn more from Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper in the Taranaki environment had prompted his decision 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," Ngatai said.
"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."
Cooper, a former Taranaki player and Hurricanes Super Rugby coach, is thrilled to have Ngatai on his roster for the 2014 campaign.
"He is a quality player, a current Maori All Black, and he has the makings of a future All Black," Cooper said.
"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."
Taranaki Rugby chief executive 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."
Ngatai was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools side in 2007 and 2008, and he was a member of the Lochore Cup-winning Poverty Bay side in 2008 while still at school. He made his ITM Cup debut for Wellington in 2009, and he was selected in 2010 for the New Zealand Under-20 side that won the third of four successive Junior World Championship titles. He made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2011, playing two seasons with the side before moving north and enjoying a strong season with the Chiefs in 2013.