Waikato have announced the signing of former All Blacks and Waikato fan favourite, Liam Messam, for the upcoming 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.

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Messam, 36, returns to the province five years after his move to Japan to play for the Toshiba Brave Lupus and then a subsequent move to France to play for Toulon. Before his move overseas, Messam accumulated a total of 85 provincial caps over his 12 seasons for Waikato while he’s also the most capped Chief of all time, with 179 to his name. Messam is also the only non-Crusader to have amassed 100 Super Rugby victories.

The 2015 World Cup medalist will partner up with the likes of Luke and Mitch Jacobson in the Waikato loose forwards while a number of former under 20 stars are also on the Mooloo’s books.

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Waikato head coach Andrew Strawbridge said “Waikato Rugby is proud to announce the signing of Liam Messam for the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup season.

“Messam is a very talented and vastly experienced player, who can play a range of positions in the loose forwards. He is another one of these players that cares deeply about the jersey, his teammates and is well respected by the province, so we are very fortunate to have him back in the colours.”

Messam first played for Waikato back in 2003 and while he won’t be able to reach the 100-cap mark for Waikato this season, it will draw him nearer to that illustrious achievement.

The Mitre 10 Cup kicks off on September 11 and will likely have a far greater number of current and former All Blacks participating than usual due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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