United Rugby Championship: Charlie Ngatai on his way to Leinster

David Skippers

Leinster have announced that former All Blacks centre Charlie Ngatai wll be joining them from Top 14 outfit Lyon.

Ngatai has made 88 appearances for Lyon, since joining the French club from the Chiefs in New Zealand in 2018, and helped them to victory against Toulon in last month’s Challenge Cup final in Marseille.

Experienced player

The 31-year-old represented the Hurricanes in 2011 and 2012 before moving to the Chiefs in 2013. He also played in 12 matches for the Maori All Blacks and made his only Test appearance against Samoa in Apia in 2015.

Ngatai will join Leinster ahead of their pre-season training programme and the Irish province’s head coach Leo Cullen expects him to make a positive impact in his new surroundings.

“I first came across Charlie back in 2014 when I visited the Chiefs late-on in my playing days and as I was preparing to make the transition into coaching,” he told Leinster’s official website. “Even then, as a young man, you could see the influence he had on that Chiefs squad and that influence I think has only increased over the years with Lyon most recently.

“He’s a New Zealand international and I believe would have been capped far more only for his injury issues which were well-documented at the time but he has been back playing now a number of years and you could see even in the Challenge Cup final in Marseille just how influential a player he is.

“The important element for us I think when you look at some of the experience we are losing out of the environment this season with departures and retirements, is that Charlie will be an ever-present figure around UCD and will be a great asset to our younger players in terms of his leadership and experience.

“We look forward to welcoming Charlie and his young family to Dublin very soon.”

Ngatai is determined to hit the ground running when he joins the United Rugby Championship outfit.

“I’ve had a great few seasons in Lyon but I’m now excited to get started in a new environment, a new team culture and to take on new challenges.

“I’ve had a few good chats with Leo and it will be exciting to play alongside some new and also some familiar faces.”

READ MORE: Leinster: Andrew Goodman will join the club as an assistant coach as Felipe Contepomi leaves for Argentina


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