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Neath RFC

Neath have completed a shock swoop for former All Black and Scarlets centre Regan King.

One of the classiest players ever to play regional rugby, he will start at The Gnoll in June and Neath hope the centre will play an important role in developing some of their younger players. “We are really pleased to be bringing on board someone of Regan’s quality and experience,” said Neath chief Mike Cuddy.

“He will be nothing but positive for the club. We are talking about one of the most skilful players regional rugby has seen. He is a player whose passing can open any defence and our younger players will relish working alongside him.”

Cuddy was managing director at the Ospreys when a number of All Blacks arrived at the region, including Justin Marshall, Marty Holah, Filo Tiatia and Jerry Collins. They helped raise standards and provided invaluable know-how and self-belief to others in the squad.

“Experience is a priceless commodity and at the Ospreys Filo Tiatia and the other Kiwis were brilliant for the region,” said Cuddy. “They helped the Ospreys win silverware and they provided the lead for the Welsh boys at the region and helped them realise how good they really were.

“Circumstances are different at Neath, but if some of our players can learn from Regan then it would aid them hugely. He is looking forward to coming back to Wales. He had two great spells with the Scarlets and enjoyed the rugby and loves the country. I think he’s keen to get into coaching and this will be the chance for him to develop in that respect.”

King enjoyed two highly successful spells at the Scarlets when his passing and ability to conjure space for team-mates were a joy to behold. Now 37, he has been playing for Mid Canterbury in New Zealand since a brief spell with Jersey Reds, but will team up with his old Scarlets pal Gavin Evans in Neath colours.

Other signings will follow too for the Welsh All Blacks – “It is important we bring in a few people because the set-up is changing in the Premiership and we want to have a much better season next time,” said Cuddy.