Blues secure Anscombe coup
Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Gareth Anscombe from Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand.
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The move will inevitably increase the possibility of the 23-year-old, who can play fly-half or full-back, breaking into Warren Gatland's Wales squad ahead of next year's World Cup.
Gatland is an admirer of Anscombe, who qualifies to wear the red shirt through his Welsh mother.
Anscombe will complete his move from Super Rugby to the Blues once he has completed ITM Cup commitments with Auckland.
The Blues confirmed that Anscombe has agreed "a long-term deal" and he will join a squad currently preparing for the new season under rugby director Mark Hammett's guidance.
"My decision to leave New Zealand has been a tough one," Anscombe said.
"I have loved every minute of my career in New Zealand and I would like to say a special thanks to the Chiefs and Auckland Rugby for everything they have done for me.
"However, in consultation with my family, I came to the conclusion that the opportunity in Wales was one that I simply couldn't turn down.
"I am really excited to be joining a region like Cardiff Blues.
"I was lucky enough to be able to visit last year, so I have a degree of familiarity with the club and people that will hopefully help me hit the ground running and start contributing to what I hope will be a successful season for the Blues.
"Much has been made about my Welsh eligibility, and there is no doubt that my mother's side of the family have always reinforced my Welshness.
"However, I am under no illusions and my focus is very much on the Blues, and if the opportunity to represent Wales comes as a result of my performances on the pitch then of course I will take it."
Anscombe has scored more than 250 points during his Super Rugby career, while he helped New Zealand win the Under-20 World Championship three years ago.
Blues chief executive Richard Holland described Anscombe's signing as a huge statement of intent by the region.
"We are absolutely delighted that Gareth has decided to join the Cardiff Blues family. I'm sure supporters right across Welsh rugby will be extremely excited about his arrival," Holland said.
"Gareth is a fantastically-talented player, a true winner after securing successive (Super Rugby) titles with the Chiefs, and also a very driven and ambitious young man.
"I first met him in October last year and was immediately impressed by his attitude. He has since been to Cardiff to have a close look at the region and is now very keen to move here and get started.
"When Mark Hammett was appointed as our new director of rugby we spoke about potential signings and Gareth was always top of that list. He was extremely keen to bring him over, and now we have concluded that deal after months of negotiations.
"Gareth's signing is an absolutely crucial one for Cardiff Blues, especially following the departure of Leigh Halfpenny (to Toulon), and it shows our absolute intention to strengthen and bring world-class players to our region."