Kelleher joins post-RWC exodus

All Blacks and Chiefs scrum-half Byron Kelleher has confirmed that he will be staying in France after the Rugby World Cup and playing club rugby for Agen.

Kelleher, 30 years old and on the brink of his 50th cap, announced the decision at a press conference after the Chiefs had beaten the Lions 34-7 in the Super 14 on Friday night.

“I’ve decided to sign a contract in France with Agen for two years,” he said.

“I’ve got mixed emotions. It was a difficult time for me to decide whether to stay in New Zealand and carry on or decide whether to come to a change in my life.

“I think a change in my life adds a challenge to my life and I’m going to a place that doesn’t speak English and I’m really looking forward to indulging in the culture over there as well.”

Kelleher has missed the Super 14 campaign thus far as a result of the re-conditioning camp organised by All Black coach Graham Henry, and has had plenty of time to chew his decision over.

“I made the decision probably about three weeks ago in my mind that I was ready to leave New Zealand,” added Kelleher.

“It was always going to be a hard thing for me because I’ve been really patient waiting to get the top spot as the All Blacks’ number nine.

“I sat on the bench for so many years and was just patient and persistent.

“I’m leaving the All Blacks but my heart will never leave the All Blacks. I’ve poured blood into that jersey and passed through it now like players before me,” he said.

“It also takes a bit of pressure off because I am looking forward to this year and what it holds.

“I just can’t wait to get involved in the All Blacks’ World Cup campaign and finish the year off with some passion and pride.”

Kelleher has not ruled out a return to New Zealand after his sojourn in France either.

“My time in New Zealand rugby is not completed or finished,” he added.

“I will definitely be returning back to New Zealand after my time overseas. Whether that is in a playing form or pouring my knowledge into the country for what it has given me, I don’t know.

“I definitely haven’t finished what I want to give back to New Zealand.”


365 Digital

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