Waikato first five-eighth Sam Christie has joined the Kiwi exodus to the Western Force in an attempt to break into Super Rugby.
Christie, a member of the Waikato side that lifted the Ranfurly Shield from Taranaki during last year's provincial championship, has secured the final sport in the Force's extended playing squad.
The 26-year-old trained with the Perth-based franchise before Christmas and sufficiently impressed new head coach Michael Foley to become the ninth new member of the Force's new-look back division for 2013.
Christie will contest the No.10 with South African import Sias Ebersohn, returning former Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight and rising star Kyle Godwin.
He follows former Waikato teammate Toby Lynn and Auckland midfield back Winston Stanley, who joined the Force last year.
Christie is the third first five-eighth employed by the Force with a New Zealand background. Former All Black David Hill represented the franchise as a stop-gap measure in 2010.
Willie Ripia then left Western Australia in disgrace 12 months ago after being accused of stealing from teammates to fund a gambling addiction.
Christie represented New Zealand Schools in 2004 and made his NPC debut two years later.
"I've been working hard for a number of years to make it into Super Rugby and to have this opportunity is a really exciting step," he said.
"It was a big learning curve for me when I was here for four weeks (before Christmas). It was a great experience and I was keen to come back."
Foley, who moved west after struggling with the NSW Waratahs in 2012, was impressed with Christie's work during last year's ITM Cup.
"Sam's a confident, attacking player. He's strong under pressure, he's got an accurate passing game and he'll be pushing hard for game time this season," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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