The Western Force have signed All Black scrumhalf Alby Mathewson as their marquee overseas player for next season as they work to rebuild the team.
The struggling Australian Super Rugby franchise lost coach Richard Graham halfway through the season this year, and having won just three matches in a disappointing campaign they then lost captain David Pocock to the Brumbies so they are searching for something of a fresh start.
Mathewson has spent the past three seasons at the Blues, and has won four Test caps for New Zealand having made his international debut in the All Blacks' 20-10 win over Australia in Christchurch in 2010.
"This is an excellent opportunity for me and one I'm really looking forward to," said the 26-year-old who played every match for the Blues this year, was named New Zealand's Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2010.
Mathewson said that he is excited to work with new coach Michael Foley, who joined the Force earlier this month from the Waratahs.
"The Force are entering a really exciting period with a new coach coming in, and it's a great chance to be part of building something special and for this playing group to leave a significant legacy at the club," he said.
Foley said that the signing of Mathewson shows how serious they are about raining standards in Perth next season.
"As we prepare to relaunch the side, we've focused on recruiting some of the best up-and-coming talent," said Foley.
"Having Alby join us in a key position like scrumhalf will not only add to our performance next season, but also ensure we're able to develop our young talent to its fullest potential.
"Alby has a good all-round game with attacking skills that allow him to identify and exploit opportunities in the defensive line. Our goal is to play up-tempo rugby that our players and supporters enjoy, and it's a brand of rugby that will suit Alby's skills.
"Alby's been a stalwart at this level for the past six years and will, along with Brett Sheehan, provide us with two very experienced options at scrumhalf in 2013," he said.
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