Chiefs and Waikato half-back Tawera Kerr-Barlow will bid adieu to New Zealand at the end of 2017 to join La Rochelle.
The 26-year-old has signed a three-year deal with Top 14 leaders La Rochelle, where he will link up with former All Blacks Victor Vito and Jason Eaton.
“I’m excited to announce that the next chapter of my rugby career will be with La Rochelle in France," he said.
"It was an extremely hard decision to make, but I feel it is the right one for my family and myself. I’ve always wanted to play rugby in New Zealand and to represent teams like Waikato and the Chiefs which is where my family comes from. It was a childhood dream of mine to become an All Black and it has been a privilege to represent my country.
“Over the past couple of months I’ve thought long and hard about going overseas. I had really good contact with the Chiefs and the All Blacks throughout the process, but ultimately the opportunity to play rugby with La Rochelle and experience the French culture with my family was the right decision for me.
"At this point in time, I’m 100 percent focused on helping the Chiefs to another Super Rugby title and making the best of every moment I have left to play rugby in New Zealand” said Kerr-Barlow.
Melbourne-born Kerr-Barlow arrived in New Zealand in 2004 as a 13-year-old and attended Hamilton Boys High School. The hard-working half-back made his debut for Waikato in 2009 and in 2010 he was part of the New Zealand U20 side that won the Junior World Championship in Argentina.
Kerr-Barlow made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2011 against the Brumbies. Since then the clinical number nine has become a mainstay for the Chiefs, dotting down seven times in his 70 appearances to date.
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said: “Tawera is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet and has been a pleasure to work with.
"Caring and competitive are two traits that stand out, but it’s his work ethic and leadership around defence that makes him world-class. Tawera is in the form of his life, we wish him well.”
Tawera Kerr-Barlow will join La Rochelle at the end of the season, signing a three year deal. We wish Tawera all the best in France! pic.twitter.com/m9bJRogGEY
— Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) March 14, 2017