Cape Town - Charlie Ngatai has joined several other fringe All Black players in leaving New Zealand, with confirmation that he is moving to Lyon at the end of the season.
Ngatai has one Test cap for the All Blacks but was denied an opportunity to cement his place in the team due to a concussion that ruled him out of rugby for 12 months.
“I‘m likely looking to head overseas, and more likely over to France, at the end of the season,” Ngatai told Reuters early in the week.
It was reported that Toulouse and Lyon were interested in acquiring Ngatai’s signature, with Toulouse having initially been tipped as the frontrunner to do, but Ngatai has opted for Lyon.
"LOU Rugby is pleased to announce the signing of Charlie Ngatai (for) next season - welcome to Lyon Charlie," the club wrote on Twitter.
Because he had a year taken away from him due to that horrible concussion, Ngatai believes the decision to go to France is in the best interests of prolonging his career.
Instead of challenging for an All Blacks jersey, he wants to secure financial security while he is still in his prime.
“That’s another reason why we looked overseas as well, you never know when your career’s going to finish,” he said, adding that the depth of talent in the All Blacks midfield would make it a challenge to break through.
“I guess a lot of it comes down to money. And then opportunity - there’s a lot of young players coming through in New Zealand, and places in the All Blacks team are a lot harder.”
Ngatai joins 16-Test flyhalf Lima Sopoaga and Brad Shields as promising players confirmed to be heading abroad at the end of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Utility back Charles Piutau also left for Europe in arguably his prime in 2015, while loose forward Steven Luatua joined Bristol last year.
.@LeLOURugby est heureux de vous annoncer la signature de @Charlie_Ngatai à compter de la saison prochaine ! Bienvenue à Lyon Charlie ;-) #TEAMLOU #TOP14 https://t.co/QnAuUd9PAR pic.twitter.com/B3LetGsssS— LOU Rugby (@LeLOURugby) January 30, 2018