Ngatai not wanting to leave the Chiefs too quickly

By James Perry

At the end of the Super Rugby season, teams will farewell some of their star players. 

Some, like the Chiefs' Charlie Ngatai are be hoping that won't be this weekend.

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper says it's something that the squad have been discussing for six weeks or so, but his team isn't ready to say goodbye to their departing champions just yet.

Speaking in Hamilton yesterday ahead of this weekend's quarterfinal against the Hurricanes, Cooper says the team were working on "earning the right to be in the quarterfinal and now we've got to earn the right to be in the semifinal."

One-cap All Black Ngatai is one player who will leave at the end of the Super Rugby season.  He has inked a deal with Lyon in France.

Ngatai says his focus is still on the task at hand here in NZ, including helping his side go as far as they can into the finals series.

He says the departing players, including fellow All Black Liam Messam, "just want to play, not only for ourselves but also the players that have trained all year."

Ngatai first represented Poverty Bay as an 18-year-old in 2008 before moving to Wellington the following year where he made his ITM Cup debut for the Lions.

He joined the Hurricanes in 2011, and moved to the Chiefs in 2013, winning a Super Rugby title that year.

He first wore the NZ Māori jersey in 2012, and captained the team in 2014.

Ngatai, who hails from Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-a-Apanui, hasn't ruled out one day returning home to the East Coast before he hangs up his boots completely.

He says it is something he has thought about but it's a few years away yet. 

"If I've still got a bit of life in the old legs, [I'd] definitely think about it as a player or as a coach just to help out." 

Ngatai and his family will be leave for France at the end of the season which they will be hoping is a month away still. 

If he can recover from the illness that saw him withdraw from last week's final round clash the Hurricanes, Ngatai will most likely be named to face his old side again in Wellington on Friday.