Hurricanes and Taranaki hooker Ricky Riccitelli will move north to play his Super Rugby for the Blues from 2022.
The 26-year-old, who has 71 caps for the Hurricanes under his belt, has signed to the Blues for two years.
Riccitelli, the former New Zealand Under-20 representative, has seen limited playing time in the 2021 Super season, with the Hurricanes boasting two current All Black hookers in Dane Coles and Asafo Aumua.
He will complete the Blues hooking roster with incumbents Kurt Eklund, who played for the Maori All Blacks against Samoa, and last year’s Blues Development Player of the Year, Soane Vikena.
Riccitelli, born in South Africa and brought up in Taranaki, began his representative career at Hawkes Bay, after impressing coach Craig Philpott in the New Zealand Under-20s team.
He was elevated to the Hurricanes in 2016 for the injured Coles and has been a regular at the squad ever since.
“I am excited and looking forward to making the move and challenging myself,” said Riccitelli. “I am looking for forward to the opportunity to earn some game-time as there are goals that I still want to achieve in New Zealand. I’ll be putting my best foot forward to achieve these and do my best for the club.
“The facilities at the Blues are impressive, and I am well aligned with Leon (MacDonald) and Tom Coventry and really excited about the challenges ahead.”
Riccitelli said he was indebted to the Hurricanes, and grateful for the opportunities at the club, the support of the fans, and the camaraderie with his teammates and coaches.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald said Riccitelli will be an asset to the club.
“We were looking for a quality hooker with experience to bolster our ranks alongside Kurt Eklund and to help the development of Soane Vikena,” said MacDonald.
“The Blues need depth in what is a critical position. Ricky can do his core job of throwing to lineout and scrummaging well but is also powerful ball-in-hand and in defence.
“Most of all he is a quality individual who will definitely fit into the Blue Pride ethos we are developing here at our club.”
Riccitelli will move north from Taranaki after the Bunnings National Provincial Championship.