BLACKBURN Rovers have won the race for New Zealand wonder kid Tim Payne with the 17-year-old striker set to arrive at Ewood Park next week.

The Kiwi under 17 international is regarded as the hottest prospect in his country and has been snapped up by Rovers after impressing in numerous trials over the past few months.

Payne will sign a professional contract with the club when he turns 18 in January, after opting for Rovers in favour of numerous other clubs from across Europe.

He will initially join Gary Bowyer’s development squad but, after seeing the likes of Jason Lowe, Junior Hoilett, Martin Olsson and Grant Hanley break into the club’s senior ranks, will be pushing for first team involvement.

A star pupil of Sacred Heart, New Zealand’s top football school, Payne will be looking to follow in the footsteps of compatriot and Rovers stalwart Ryan Nelsen.

His agent Danny Hay, a former Premier League footballer with Leeds, said: “I’ve seen him since he was 12 years old and watched him develop. I’m so proud of the player he's become.”