CARDIFF BLUES HAVE confirmed the long-rumoured signing of Gareth Anscombe from Super Rugby outfit the Waikato Chiefs.
Anscombe, son of former Ulster head coach Mark, will move to Wales on what the Blues termed a “long-term deal” following the completion of his ITM Cup duties with the Auckland provincial side.
The 23-year-old qualifies to play international rugby for Wales through his mother, and it is understood that national team coach Warren Gatland has been influential in ensuring this transfer took place.
For Pro12 club Cardiff, the latest personnel addition is a huge boost ahead of their first season under new Director of Rugby Mark Hammett, who is also a New Zealander.
Anscombe has played much of his recent rugby at fullback, but is known to prefer lining out in the 10 shirt, from where he led the New Zealand U20 side to a Junior World Championship in 2011.
While Rhys Priestland, Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell provide homegrown options for Gatland at out-half, it seems likely that strong form from Anscombe after his arrival in Wales would secure him a spot in Wales’ 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
My decision to leave New Zealand has been a tough one,” said Anscombe. “I have loved every minute of my career here in NZ and would like to say a special thanks to the Chiefs and Auckland Rugby for everything they have done for me.
“However, in consultation with my family, I came to the conclusion that the opportunity in Wales was one that I simply couldn’t turn down.
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“I am really excited to be joining a region like Cardiff Blues. I was lucky enough to be able to visit last year so have a degree of familiarity with the club and people that will hopefully help me hit the ground running and start contributing to what I hope will be a successful season for the Blues.
“Much has been made about my Welsh eligibility and there is no doubt that my mother’s side of the family have always reinforced my Welshness. However, I am under no illusions and my focus is very much on the Blues and if the opportunity to represent Wales comes as a result of my performances on the pitch then of course I will take it.”