WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Julian Savea will leave New Zealand at the end of the Super Rugby season to join French Top 14 club Toulon, the Wellington Hurricanes and All Blacks winger said on his verified Twitter account on Monday.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure New Zealand thank you for everything @Hurricanesrugby @AllBlacks & @WgtnRugby I’ve absolutely loved playing for my country for the past decade. Looking forward to this new adventure & joining @RCTofficiel in a few months #AuRevoir,” the 27-year-old tweeted.
A powerful attacking option boasting both pace and size, Savea scored 46 tries in 54 tests for the All Blacks, second only to Doug Howlett (49) on the all-time list for New Zealand.
“Julian goes with our blessing and we know that French rugby fans will quickly embrace him as their own,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.
“We thank Julian for his contribution to rugby in New Zealand and we wish him and his family well for their move to Toulon.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen also praised the contribution of the Hurricanes wing, who progressed from rugby sevens to make his Super Rugby debut for Wellington in 2011.
“Jules can be incredibly proud of everything he has achieved in the black jersey,” Hansen said.
“He is a devastating ball runner who inspired others with his physicality and try-scoring prowess.
“On behalf of all the All Blacks, we want to wish Julian and his family all the very best and thank him for everything he has done for the All Blacks.”
After bursting on the international scene in 2012, Savea has struggled for form and fitness in recent seasons, making his last New Zealand appearance against the British and Irish Lions in July 2017 after falling down the All Blacks pecking order.
The Hurricanes are currently second in the New Zealand conference with three rounds remaining and will be hoping to send Savea off with a repeat of their 2016 title triumph in the tournament final on Aug. 8.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien