The Chiefs have confirmed the signing of Highlanders and Southland prop Jamie Mackintosh for the next two years.
After debuting back in 2007 against the Western Force, the 28 year old has gone on to earn 62 Super Rugby caps for the Highlanders prior to this season and will head north next year looking for a fresh start.
The announcement comes after the former Highlanders captain struggled to find game time down south, appearing five times this season despite being available and injury-free, with coach Jamie Joseph preferring to go with All Black Tony Woodcock in the No 1 jersey throughout the season.
''I guess I've been in a bit of a spot down here, I've mentioned a few times it's been a tough year. I think off the field I've done everything I can to give my best for the Highlanders and on the field I've played some pretty good rugby, but I just couldn't see myself coming back for another year just for an opportunity at game time.'' Mackintosh said about leaving the Highlanders franchise who he had been involved with since 2004.
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie is thrilled to have Mackintosh coming aboard and viewed the him as someone who was well respected and passionate about his rugby, but also believed the addition of Southland skipper was a great signing for the franchise.
''[Jamie] brings with him not only experience but really strong leadership skills and so he'll be a massive contributor both on and off the field we believe.''
The news of Mackintosh's signing is set to bolster the Chiefs stocks at prop further with current players Pauliasi Manu and Ben Tameifuna both re-signing.
With Toby Smith departing for the Melbourne Rebels at the end of the season, the man known as 'Whopper' looks likely to fill the void at loosehead prop.
''It's not that easy to pick up guys of Jamie's experience so the timing was right and it's a good opportunity for him,'' Rennie said also highlighting from next season onwards there would be 23 players in the playing squad with the addition of an extra prop on the bench.
''It was real obvious, it was a really great opportunity within our mix for him and I know he's excited by it and we're certainly rapt to grab him.''
Rennie was unable to comment on whether there had been any further signings as plans for the 2014 Chiefs roster begin to take shape.
But with names like All Black fullback Israel Dagg and fellow Crusaders teammate Tom Marshall rumoured to be in negotiations, the Chiefs coach said he was hopeful some of the current squad would aim to re-sign with the defending Super Rugby champions.
''We're obvously trying to fill our roster for next year, so with some of our boys who are in our squad now who have got contracts in front of them so they'll hopefully sign in the near future and then it's similar with some guys who we're looking at to replace some of the guys who are leaving.
''There will certainly be some more announcements coming up but not at the moment,'' Rennie said.
- Waikato Times
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