Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has confirmed that tighthead prop Hoani Tui is to leave the club at the end of the season.
The 29-year-old will join Lyon, the current leaders of Pro D2, on a two-year deal this summer after five seasons playing for the Chiefs in both the Championship and the Premiership.
Signed from Italian outfit Calvisano in 2010, the popular Kiwi forward has to date played 109 times for the Chiefs in all competitions, scoring six tries in the process.
A cornerstone of the Exeter pack since his arrival in Devon, Tui not only helped the Chiefs to get promoted out of the Championship during his first season at the club, but he has since impressed many with his displays in both the English top flight and Europe.
Indeed, his displays during the 2011/12 season were particularly notable as he was named Players' Player of the Year in the club's end of season awards.
"It's like anything, he has been a great player for us over the years," said Baxter.
"He was one of those guys that came in during that first Championship year when we got promoted and he's only really known success since he has been here.
"I have no problem with a player moving on for positive reasons. Hoani is moving on - not because we don't want him to stay - but more that a very good French club is prepared to offer him a very good contract. He has been a great player for us, he's a good guy around the place and he's continued to perform very well for us even since we knew he was going to leave.
"For me it's not a negative when a very good player who has done so many good things for you gets offered a good contract elsewhere. It's nice that we want to keep him and that other clubs want him, I don't have a problem with that.
"Hoani has been a great servant for the club and I've no doubt he will continue to be until the end of this season. After which we wish him all the best for the future."
"Choosing to leave the Chiefs wasn't easy, it was probably one of the toughest decisions I've had to make," said Tui.
"Obviously moving to France is going to be a new challenge for me, but it's one that I am looking forward to.
"Before then I have work to do here in Exeter and I want to make sure I leave the club on a high. Since I arrived it's been an amazing time, both on and off the field, and the club has come so far in such a short space of time.
"The group of lads we have here are pretty special and this club is certainly one of a kind. I don't think you could go anywhere in the world and find a squad that is as together as we are here. For sure I'll miss all of that, but I'll also have plenty of memories to look back on."