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Ngatai wants Sonny Bill Williams' Chiefs jersey

Charlie Ngatai has moved to the Chiefs for the 2013 Super Rugby season

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Article Published: Wednesday 16 January 2013|

New Chiefs signing Charlie Ngatai says that even though he spent the last NPC playing at fullback he has his sights set on Sonny Bill Williams' No 12 jersey at the Chiefs.

Ngatai will however have his work cut out for him as there are four players pressing for the Chiefs midfield positions including Richard Kahui, Andrew Horrell and Bundee Aki.

Kahui missed the second half of last year's Super Rugby winning campaign with a shoulder injury but still should be considered as the starting centre which leaves the other three players fighting over the position SBW vacated when he left for Japan and eventually the NRL in Australia.

At Gisborne Boys' High School Ngatai played fullback but when he moved to Wellington, he bulked up and found that he had been moved to fullback where he has made a name for himself playing for the province, New Zealand under-20, the Hurricanes and the Maori All Blacks.

Ngatai's 2012 Super Rugby season was wrecked by a broken ankle and he found that he was stuck behind Tim Bateman and All Black Conrad Smith at the Hurricanes.

Super Rugby winning coach Dave Rennie asked him to join the Chiefs so he made the move to Waikato.

"The aim is to push for a starting spot," the twenty-two-year-old Ngatai told Fairfax NZ News.

"Sonny played most of the season at 12 last year and I just want to try to get the opportunity to play there and see if I can do it for the whole season.

"But there's good competition throughout the team."

At 108kg and 1.91m tall Sonny Bill was bigger than Ngatai but is a solid 103kg and 1.88m so he is not too much smaller.

The difference in size helps to make Ngatai a little more versatile and he is able to play centre and fullback and is probably fast enough to play on the wing even though he plays down his speed.

"I put on a few extra kgs and that slowed me down a little [from school days] but it's starting to come off now which is good and, hopefully, we'll see that speed coming back."

Ngatai said that he enjoyed playing in the No 15 jersey for Wellington but has loved playing in the midfield and wants to pursue that area as his career develops.

"Fullback, you've got more time, whereas in midfield you've got to be a lot sharper and be thinking a bit more."

Ngatai said that even though he was new to the Chiefs he knew a number of the players which helps and that he had been made to feel welcome since his arrival in Hamilton and his focus now is on nailing down a starting position.

"It's just getting used to the different calls in a different team and, in a couple of weeks or even a week, I should be there," Ngatai said.

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