All Blacks scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow has joined Waikato Chiefs partner Aaron Cruden and Auckland Blues prop Charlie Faumuina in marking with a French club for next season.
Kerr-Barlow will join the table-topping La Rochelle on a three-year contract toward the finish of this current year.
“Over the past couple of months I’ve thought long and hard about going overseas,” Kerr-Barlow said in a statement.
“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.”
The 26-year-old made his All Blacks debut in 2012 but has been battling with the Wellington Hurricanes’ TJ Perenara for the backup job to Steve Hansen’s first-choice scrumhalf Aaron Smith and has begun only two of his 25 test matches.
He has also suffered numerous serious injuries, tearing ligaments in his knee and the hamstring off the bone in 2014 but battled back to make the 2015 World Cup squad. He also suffered with concussion and a broken hand a year ago.
Kerr-Barlow, however, has been playing arguably the best rugby of his career for the Chiefs in this year’s Super Rugby competition, helping the unbeaten Hamilton-based side to the top of the New Zealand conference and overall standings.
His Chiefs partner Cruden will join Montpellier toward the finish of the season, while tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina is joining Toulouse.
The Chiefs have likewise lost James Lowe to European rugby next year with the winger, who was on the fringes of All Blacks selection, joining Irish side Leinster for three years.