Rugby: Ngatai's back on centre stage

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Chiefs' new recruit Charlie Ngatai says he's happy to have his first 80 minutes of football behind him in a Chiefs jersey.

The utility back, who moved to the Chiefs this year from the Hurricanes, was given a full game in a pre-season match against the Highlanders last Saturday.

He said he wanted to show off some of his talent for the coaches, and was happy with his first appearance despite not getting on the scoresheet.

"Playing this first game I wanted to really show what I've got," he said. "It's good to blow out the old cobwebs.

"We have been training for the past four weeks and it was good to get the first game out of the way," Ngatai said.

Asked if he would be looking to keep the No13 jersey for the season he said he was not worried so much about the position, as long as he was being played somewhere on the field.

Tonight the midfielder gets his chance at second-five partnering Asaeli Tikoirotuma who has swapped with Andrew Horrell from the left wing.

Ngatai said he has found the transition from the Hurricanes to the Chiefs smooth.

"We have been training for the past four weeks and it was good to get the first game out of the way.

"We still need to work on a few things but as the season goes on I think [those connections] will come a lot better."

He said he was not too troubled where he was played by head coach Dave Rennie, and simply wanted time on the field.

The Chiefs play the Reds in their second trial match at Stockland Stadium, Sunshine Coast tonight at 10 o'clock (New Zealand time).

The Chiefs' All Blacks will get a run after having limited action during their side's 36-14 win against the Highlanders in last week's trial match. Players who will not be included are Brendon Leonard, who will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a fractured cheekbone, and Lelia Masaga, who has a minor knee injury. Prop Ben Afeaki is also out with an infected foot and Solomoana Sakalia is sick, but both are expected to return next week.

Chiefs squad:

Toby Smith, Mahonri Schwalger, Ben Tameifuna, Brodie Retallick, Ross Filipo, Liam Messam (captain), Sam Cane, Fritz Lee, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Andrew Horrell, Charlie Ngatai, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Patrick Osborne, Tim Nanai-Williams. Reserves: Hika Elliot, Michael Kainga, Michael Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, August Pulu, Gareth Anscombe, Bundee Aki, Maritino Nemani, Matthew Vant Leven, Nick Crosswell, Pauliasi Manu.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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