New Zealand Maori captain Rua Tipoki is set to team up with Munster subject to him getting medical clearance and obtaining a work permit.

The 31 year old centre captained the Maori in the recent Churchill Cup competition in England and was one of the beaten finalists’ stand out players.

After an unforgettable Air New Zealand Cup season with North Harbour in 2006, during which he captained the team to Ranfurly Shield victory, Tipoki moved to Christchurch to take up a contract with Canterbury. He was subsequently included in the Crusaders squad for the Rebel Sport Super 14 and last started for the Crusaders as centre pertner to Casey Laulala in the Super 14 match against the Hurricanes at the Jade Stadium in Christchurch in April.

He played Super 12 with the Highlander and Auckland Blues and after a stint in Japan, Tipoki returned to New Zealand and was one of the stand-out players in Bay of Plenty’s Ranfurly Shield success, and Air New Zealand NPC top-four performance in 2004.

He was outstanding for the New Zealand Maori against the British and Irish Lions, during a season that saw him captain North Harbour in the Air New Zealand NPC and he brings a wealth of experience into the Munster set-up.

Rua Tipoki:   5’11” (1.78m) – 14st (89kg).
Born 11th August 1975 in Gisborne New Zealand.
Has played NPC with East Coast, Bay of Plenty & North Harbour
Has played Super 12 with Highlanders (2000), Blues (99/01/05/06) Crusaders (07)
New Zealand Maori since 2003
New Zealand A top try scorer on tour to France
New Zealand 7s

In other news Munster’s outstanding full-back for the past number of years Shaun Payne moves ‘upstairs’ in the Munster set up. 35 year-old Payne has been appointed full time Team Manager with Jerry Holland remaining on in an advisory capacity. Payne will continue to play rugby at club level with UL Bohemians.