Blues lock Josh Bekhuis has signed a two-year contract with French club Lyon and is set to leave New Zealand at the end of the 2016 season.
Bekhuis started his Super Rugby career with the Highlanders in 2009, before joining the Blues in 2015, said the decision to move to Lyon was made by him and his wife Micaela, both of whom felt ready to explore a new culture overseas.
"I’m interested in learning a new language,” he told the Blues' official website.
"Lyon is the second biggest city in France and apparently quite beautiful, so we’re really looking forward to going over."
Bekhuis will be joining fellow Southlander Kendrick Lynn and former Bay of Plenty utility back Toby Arnold at Lyon.
He’s grateful to have the contract negotiations settled early on in the season – he officially signed more than three weeks ago – as it’s meant the starting lock can focus on the task at hand.
"My main focus is this season and reaching our goals as a team," added Bekhuis.
"I didn’t want my plans for next year hanging over me during the season."
2016 saw Bekhuis earn his 100th Super Rugby cap, making him just the fifth New Zealand rugby player to earn the century in both provincial and Super Rugby.
Interim Blues captain and hooker James Parsons described Bekhuis as "a top team man" with incredible influence on the team.
"Not only does he try to perfect his own game, he tries to perfect others as well. He’s been a key part of every success we’ve had as a forward pack," said Parsons.
Bekhuis is set to leave soon after the 2016 season is complete.