We wanted to ensure we had depth at flyhalf this season
Australia-eligible Waikato flyhalf Sam Christie has claimed the final playing squad contract with the Western Force ahead of the new Super Rugby season.
The 26-year-old playmaker is the ninth new member of the Force's back division for the 2013 campaign, and is eligible to play for the Wallabies thanks to his Adelaide-born father.
The former New Zealand Schools representative is one of four flyhalf options for the Force, along with former Cheetahs playmaker Sias Ebersohn, returning Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight and Australian Under-20 representative Kyle Godwin.
"Being such a pivotal position we wanted to ensure we had depth at flyhalf this season," Force coach Michael Foley said.
"We've now got four quality options at 10 as well as the ability to cover a number of other positions," he added.
Christie made his NPC debut with Waikato in 2006 and has seven seasons of provincial experience for the Mooloos under his belt.
Foley said that he has been impressed with Christie since he started training with the squad late last year.
"Sam's form with Waikato was impressive during the ITM Cup, including a strong showing in their Ranfurly Shield win over Taranaki. We invited him to train with us in the lead-in to Christmas and he demonstrated that he's not only ready to take the next step to Super Rugby when called upon to do so, but is hungry and eager for that opportunity.
"Sam's a confident, attacking player. He's strong under pressure, he's got an accurate passing game and he'll be pushing hard for game time this season," said the Force boss.
Christie signs on with the Force having previously represented New Zealand Schools (2004), Bay of Plenty U23 (2005) and Waikato U20 (2006) prior to making his provincial debut for the North Island province in 2006.
Christie said that he is keen to continue his rugby development in the Western Force in Perth.
"I'm really excited [about this opportunity]," he said. "I've been working hard for a number of years to make it into Super Rugby and to have this opportunity is a really exciting step.
"I like the running style of rugby and the Force is going to bring a great style of rugby this year. We've got some very sharp backs and a versatile forward pack and we've got a chance to play some good attacking rugby which I'm really excited about," added Christie.
Christie joins James Hilterbrand (hooker), Salesi Manu (prop), Mick Snowden (scrumhalf) and Rory Walton (lock) as the Western Force’s five Extended Playing Squad-contracted players for 2013.
Western Force squad: Chris Alcock, Phoenix Battye, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, James Hilterbrand (EPS), Matt Hodgson, Kieran Longbottom, Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma'afu, Salesi Manu (EPS), Lachlan McCaffrey, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Rory Walton (EPS), Ben Whittaker, Sam Wykes, Sam Christie (EPS), Nick Cummins, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn, Kyle Godwin, Jayden Hayward, Alfie Mafi, Alby Mathewson, Sam Norton-Knight, Ed Stubbs, Solomoni Rasolea, Brett Sheehan, Mick Snowden (EPS), Winston Stanley, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, Will Tupou.