Leinster Rugby, beaten in the Heineken Champions Cup final by Stade Rochelais last month, have boosted their bid for a fifth European title by signing New Zealand international Charlie Ngatai from EPCR Challenge Cup winners Lyon.

The 31-year-old centre has played 88 times for Lyon in the last four seasons in the Heineken Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and TOP 14, including in last month’s 30-12 victory over RC Toulon in the Challenge Cup final.

Ngatai played against Leinster for Lyon in the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup, but Leinster head coach Leo Cullen knew of him before then.

He explained: “I first came across Charlie back in 2014, when I visited the Chiefs late on in my playing days and as I was preparing to make the transition into coaching.

“Even then, as a young man, you could see the influence he had on that Chiefs squad and that influence I think has only increased over the years with Lyon most recently.

“He’s a New Zealand international and I believe would have been capped far more only for his injury issues, which were well-documented at the time, but he has been back playing now a number of years and you could see even in the Challenge Cup final in Marseille just how influential a player he is.

“The important element for us I think, when you look at some of the experience we are losing out of the environment this season with departures and retirements, is that Charlie will be an ever-present figure around UCD and will be a great asset to our younger players in terms of his leadership and experience.”

Ngatai, who played 12 times for the Māori All Blacks and was capped by New Zealand against Samoa in 2015, is now ready for a new challenge.

He told Leinster’s website: “I’ve had a great few seasons in Lyon, but I’m now excited to get started in a new environment, a new team culture and to take on new challenges.

“I’ve had a few good chats with Leo and it will be exciting to play alongside some new and also some familiar faces.”