Mehrtens confirms two-year deal with Quins eal

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The Independent Online

The former All Black fly-half Andrew Mehrtens announced yesterday that he is leaving New Zealand to join the National Division One side Harlequins on a two-year deal.

Mehrtens, New Zealand's highest Test scorer with 967 points, said he would arrive in Britain in early July, after the Lions Test series.

"I am very excited about joining Harlequins," he said. "Whether I had been selected to play for the All Blacks against the Lions or not, I have reached a time in both my rugby career and my personal life where I am seeking new challenges."

Mehrtens, 32, played 70 Tests for New Zealand, including the 1995 World Cup final. He lost his place to Carlos Spencer before the 2003 World Cup and won a recall last year, but he was left out of the All Blacks' 26-man squad to face the Lions.

Mehrtens' long-time All Black half-back partner Justin Marshall is in the current Test squad, but will join Leeds for next season.

"Andrew has been a world-class player and was probably the best No 10 in the world in the late 1990s," said the All Blacks coach, Graham Henry.

"Over the last decade he has been one of our foremost All Blacks and a great character."

Three Lions tourists - Lewis Moody and Ollie Smith of England and Ireland's Geordan Murphy - have signed new deals with the Leicester Tigers. Murphy and Moody have signed for three years and Smith for two.

"Other clubs were interested in me, which is always flattering," said Smith. "But I'm delighted to have signed a new two-year deal with Leicester."