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Former USA U20 star and University of Oklahoma All American Taylor Mokate is off to play rugby in New Zealand.

Mokate, who made his first senior national team appearance last year with the USA 7s team, will be joining the Wellington Football Club, which won the HS Morgan Memorial (Wellington RFU 2nd Division) final last season.

Wellington is also the old club of former All Black great Murray Mexted. Mexted runs the IRANZ rugby academy, where both Mokate and his former OU coach Tyson Meek spent time. Those three combined to set up a place for Mokate at the Wellington club.

Mokate remembers his time at IRANZ fondly.

"You can't beat one-on-one coaching with a former All Black back row," said the No. 8.

Mokate said he will concentrate on playing in the back row, with a special eye toward working at the back of the scrum at No. 8. But, he said, the key is to get game time.

"I feel like I am a No. 8 at the end of the day, but I will gladly play blind or open in hopes of getting the playing time and ultimately the experience," he told

Mokate leaves for New Zealand soon, and his visa will be good for a year. He says he will still be available for national team callups and camps, but also hopes to parlay his play into a longer-term deal.