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Leinster set to sign former All Blacks centre Charlie Ngatai

By Ian Cameron
Lyons Charlie Ngatai during the Heineken Champions Cup match at Sandy Park, Exeter. (Photo by Simon Galloway/PA Images via Getty Images)

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United Rugby Championship side Leinster have been linked to former All Blacks centre Charlie Ngatai.

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The French press are reporting that Ngatai has turned his back on an extension with Lyon, with Leinster the side said to be favourites to sign the 31-year-old centre.

It’s a fascinating signing for Leinster, who already boast British & Irish Lion Robbie Henshaw and Ireland centre Garry Ringrose among their midfield riches.

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The Irish giants are renowned for producing homegrown talent and only dipping into the international market occasionally for the odd star signing.

It’s very possible Leinster are looking at Ngatai as a depth addition that will give Leo Cullen’s side more firepower during international windows, especially given the Rugby World Cup in France just around the corner.

They are also set to lose the services of stalwart Rory O’Loughlin, who will join Gallagher Premiership side Exeter Chiefs next season.

RugbyPass understands that the province had budgeted for a major second-row signing, but that with the transfer of one cap Springboks lock Jason Jenkins from Munster, there was plenty left in the purse for the high profile centre.

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With the exception of the incoming Jenkins, there was also room in for another overseas signing, with just one non-Irish qualified player – Samoan Michael Ala’alatoa – on the current roster, potentially allowing IRFU performance director David Nucifora the room he needs to greenlight the addition.

While Ngatai was only capped once for the All Blacks, he was highly rated in New Zealand before he made the decision to up sticks to Europe in 2018.

Former Leinster hooker turned pundit Bernard Jackman sees his addition as a smart signing for the Irish province, writing: ‘Great recruit for Leinster with former All Black Charlie Ngatai joining from Lyon in the Top 14… he is a proven top end player. Leinster produce lots of talent. It’s in show for the 4 provinces each weekend. I believe it’s a good thing for all 4 to be allowed add Quality where the coaches feel they need it. Vermeulen at Ulster, Synman at Munster etc’

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The 6’2, 104kg centre made 51 appearances for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

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