Taranaki's backline stocks for 2014 have been boosted with the addition of utility back Marty McKenzie.
The 21-year-old has signed with Tenderlink Taranaki for two years after three years playing for Southland in the ITM Cup competition.
The announcement comes a month after the amber and blacks signed Chiefs and New Zealand Maori utility back Charlie Ngatai on a two-year deal.
McKenzie, a former New Zealand under-20 representative, will play his club rugby in Taranaki when his Super rugby commitments end.
McKenzie is in camp with the 17-strong New Zealand sevens squad this week. If he misses the cut for the next two tournaments he will be released to the Chiefs as cover for injuries.
It won't be his first taste of Super rugby, having played three games for the Blues in 2013.
A skilled goal-kicker, McKenzie was pursued by several provinces when he came off contract with Southland. He made the decision to join Taranaki after a visit to the province late last year.
"When I heard Taranaki was interested in having me join their team, I was pretty excited. I know a few boys in the Taranaki environment like Jamison Gibson-Park and Rhys Marshall, who I know both really enjoy playing up there," he said.
"When I had the opportunity to visit the Naki and meet with Colin (head coach Colin Cooper), Mike (chief executive Mike Collins) and a few others, I could see why the guys speak so highly of the setup. Having spent three years with Southland, I am ready for a new challenge."
Cooper said McKenzie was a welcome addition to the side.
"We're very pleased that Marty will be joining us this year. His inclusion in the side provides us with depth in key positions, covering 10, 15 and 12," he said.
"Marty's a young man with ITM Cup and Super rugby experience. Also, he is of good character and will fit into our environment really well."
McKenzie was born in Invercargill and attended Gore High School before moving to Canterbury's Christ College to complete his final two years of schooling. He played first XV rugby for Christ College for two seasons before returning home, making his debut for Southland in 2011.
In 2013, McKenzie signed a two-year contract with the Blues but was released from the Auckland franchise with a year to go on his contract, allowing him to take up a sevens contract.
- Taranaki Daily News
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