France-bound Ali Williams has explained that his desire for new experiences was the chief reason behind his decision to sign for Toulon.
The former All Black will be leaving after he captains the Blues against the Chiefs on Saturday in his 117th Super Rugby game.
After earning 77-caps for New Zealand and being in the Super Rugby since 2002, the big lock says he needs a new challenge and Toulon is the right choice.
"I love New Zealand, but it's time for me to experience something else, open my eyes to a bit more of the world," Williams told NZ Newswire on Thursday.
"I felt maybe I was getting a bit too closed-in here and thinking this is the world."
Williams is confident New Zealand will still be in good shape in the second row department after his departure.
"You tell me if you knew who Brodie Retallick was two years ago," he said of the Chiefs second-rower.
"Now he's one of the world's best locks. We have the talent in this country to find someone super special and turn them into a superstar."
Coach Sir John Kirwan supports his captain's decision.
"He's got nothing left to prove in New Zealand," said Kirwan.
"He's been fantastic this year and really grown as a leader, but I think the best thing for him and his family is to go and spend a couple of years in Europe."
Enthusiastic about forming a partnership with Bakkies Botha after years of confrontations in international and Super Rugby games, Williams will not be in complete unknown territory as will join former team-mates Chris Masoe and Carl Hayman at RCT.