Charlie Ngatai secures two-year Taranaki deal

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013
Charlie Ngatai
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
NEW TEAM-MATES: Andre Taylor and Kurt Baker will not have to worry about defending Charlie Ngatai in the NPC after he signed with Taranaki for 2014.

Relevant offers

Provincial

Glen Gregory returns to rugby to coach after battling back from concussion hell Former NRL player Tupou Sopoaga joins Highlanders as injury cover Former NRL player Tupou Sopoaga to play rugby in Southland in 2017 Crowley to replace Hammett as Tasman's new assistant NPC rugby coach New Zealand Rugby chief Neil Sorensen opens up to deliver strong message on mental health New Zealand provincial rugby could be a winner in new global rugby calendar Counties Manukau Rugby wants coaches to put their hands up for high school rugby No regrets as concussion victim Sean Polwart leaves rugby with a clear head New chairperson Jane Duncan has plenty of ties to Buller rugby NZ Rugby steps up concussion battle with introduction of blue card nationwide

Chiefs and New Zealand Maori utility back Charlie Ngatai has signed a two-year deal with Taranaki.

The 23-year-old's departure from Wellington was announced by Taranaki Rugby yesterday in what is expected to be the first of several significant off-season signings following a miserable 2013 National Provincial Championship.

With James Marshall committing to Taranaki earlier this month, the squad already looks significantly stronger.

Ngatai's decision to leave Wellington was based on his desire to continually challenge himself.

Although appearing to be a natural midfielder, he played most of the 2013 NPC at fullback.

"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," he said from the Chiefs' training base.

"I got to work with Coops [Taranaki coach Colin Cooper] 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."

Although Taranaki would have been extremely keen to get someone of Ngatai's pedigree, the fact he was also in the Chiefs squad would do no harm in growing the franchise's fan base in the province after last week's partnership announcement.

His signing doubles the Taranaki presence in the Chiefs to two alongside hooker Rhys Marshall.

Cooper was naturally delighted to snare Ngatai, who could easily slot into second five-eighth or centre - with the former probably a preferred option for the coach and assistant Leo Crowley.

The loss of Jayden Hayward to the Force at the end of 2012 really hurt Taranaki last season, especially after they decided to go with rookie first five-eighths.

It was something Cooper acknowledged yesterday.

"Charlie fills the void which was created by the departure of Jayden Hayward," he said. "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."

Although he is still young, Ngatai has already gathered a lot of first-class experience with Poverty Bay, Wellington, the Hurricanes, the Chiefs and New Zealand Maori. He is also another export from Taranaki's favourite learning institute - Gisborne Boys' High School - joining the likes of Blade Thomson, Jamison Gibson-Park and Beaudein Waaka.

Ad Feedback

- Taranaki Daily News

Special offers
Opinion poll

What did you make of this year's ITM Cup?

It was as good a season as I can remember.

It was great to see the smaller provinces perform well.

I caught the odd game here and there.

Sorry, it was an utter snore-fest.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content