All Blacks legend Fitzpatrick joins Scarlets as non-executive director

London (AFP) –


New Zealand rugby legend Sean Fitzpatrick has become a non-executive director of Scarlets, declaring he feels he has "Welsh rugby in his blood".

The 57-year-old former hooker will also act as a global ambassador for the Welsh side who were coached by Fitzpatrick's compatriot Wayne Pivac until last year when he replaced Warren Gatland as coach of the Wales national team.

Fitzpatrick was capped 92 times and was part of New Zealand's World Cup-winning squad in 1987.

"The tradition and the passion is so similar to New Zealand and the Scarlets is the closest to a New Zealand environment I have experienced, completely community-based, with a total focus on the development of local talent and pride in their achievement," said Fitzpatrick, who captained the All Blacks 51 times.

He said he still recalled the time he played in Llanelli for the All Blacks in a howling gale -- the tourists won 11-0.

"I played in the 1989 game at Stradey Park in the rain and gales and experienced that west Wales passion first hand," he said.

"I also feel I have a personal connection with Welsh rugby -- it is in my blood.

"My father (Brian) played against Wales in the 1953 match -- the last time Wales beat the All Blacks (13-8 at Cardiff Arms Park) -- and greats like Phil Bennett and Gareth Edwards were my childhood heroes."