Chiefs Chat: Riding high Ngatai + WIN CHIEFS FAMILY PRIZE PACK

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charlie2Charlie Ngatai has an impressive resume – and it’s not all about rugby. Sure he is a key member of the Chiefs and has captained the Maori All Blacks, but he’s also fast on his feet and a proud father of two.

Shifting to Taranaki has been a great move for Chiefs midfielder Charlie Ngatai. When Taranaki became part of the Chiefs region, Ngatai – who had already picked up his first Super Rugby title with the Chiefs – went on to add an ITM Cup Premiership title to his resume (thanks to Taranaki’s emphatic 36-32 win over Tasman in front of an impressive sold out Yarrow Stadium).

Despite being part of the triumphant win, Ngatai couldn’t celebrate his team’s euphoric achievement in the same manner as his teammates, because he and fellow Chiefs players Marty McKenzie and Mitch Crosswell were on the red eye plane to join the Maori All Blacks.

The 24-year-old was honoured with the prestigious role of being the Maori All Blacks captain, joining an elite group of highly respected rugby men including fellow Chiefs players Liam Messam, Errol Brain and Tanerau Latimer.

To cap off a stellar year Ngatai was a finalist for the 2014 Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year, alongside Chiefs teammate Liam Messam and All Black halfback Aaron Smith, who won the award.

Born in Gisborne, the versatile midfielder first started playing rugby at the age of four. His first team was the Ngatapa Nippers and the highlight was playing with his cousins.

He went to Te wharau Primary School where his love of all sports quickly stood out. His priority was eating his ham and cheese sandwiches before getting some sports gear out to play with his mates.

His dad and his uncles fed Ngatai’s natural sporting talent by adding some fine tuning and plenty of encouragement.  His uncle Dave Ngatai played rugby with former Chiefs coach Wayne Smith in Canterbury so knew talent when he saw it.

“A national age grade sprint champion, he has the pace and skill set to play multiple positions effectively. Has a prodigious boot.” – Dave Rennie

He went into the school rugby system and was recognised for his all-round sporting achievements when he won Sportsman of the Year in his last year at primary school.

Ngatai attended Gisborne Boys’ High, becoming serious about rugby when he made the first XV in fourth form (he covered both fullback and first five).

Ngatai also proved he was fleet of foot. Competing in the Youth Olympics in Australia in sprinting, he ran 100m in 11 seconds flat.
In his last year of high school he made his debut for Poverty Bay as fullback.  He was in the Hurricanes wider training squad in 2010, earning a call up to the New Zealand U20s side, where he was part of the Junior World Champion winning side under the guidance of Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.

After earning his first super rugby full contract for the Hurricanes in 2011, Ngatai remained there for two years before an opportunity came up at the Chiefs.

Ngatai also proved he was fleet of foot. Competing in the Youth Olympics in Australia in sprinting, he ran 100m in 11 seconds flat.

When Dave Rennie, his former NZ U20s coach, asked if he would like to move north, the speedy midfielder admits to being keen to reunite with Rennie, gain more opportunity and move closer to home.

It proved to be a big year with the birth of his first child, followed by winning the Investec Super Rugby title.

When he has any spare time, which he admits is not much with his rugby commitments, Ngatai returns to his East Coast roots and is a keen outdoorsman.

He enjoys hunting, fishing and diving when the chance arrives but won’t give away any of his secret spots.

This year Ngatai hopes to repeat the successes of 2013.  He and his partner Gaynor have recently had their second daughter Makaea, so he is keen to repeat the year when his daughter Kerehi was born with another Super Rugby title.

Quick questions with Charlie Ngatai

If you weren’t a rugby player, what would you be doing?
Building or farming

Who was your favourite player as a kid?
Christen Cullen

What event would you go to the Olympics for (no sevens allowed)?
100 m/200m

Who is your favourite sportsperson outside rugby?
Usain Bolt

What’s your go to meal in the kitchen?
Roast pork

Who is the best singer in the team?
Hika

What’s your favourite movie quote?
‘Hasta la vista baby’

What would you spend your last $10 on?
Lollies

– Photos: Sportpix.co.nz

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See the Chiefs in action at Waikato Stadium and bring the family to cheer them on.

Thanks to Chiefs and Fitness Journal, we’ve got a fantastic FAMILY PRIZE PACK up for grabs. This includes a family pass to the Chiefs versus Cheetahs match on Saturday March 28 at 4.30pm, a family pass to the Chiefs versus Blues Match on Easter Sunday on April 4 at 7.35pm, plus two kids goodie bags (for the kids, not the adults)!

To enter simply fill in the form below… Entries close Monday March 23.

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