All Black centre Smith confirms move to France

All Blacks and Hurricanes centre Conrad Smith has announced that he will leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the year and play in France.

Smith will play for French second division leaders Pau after the Rugby World cup which makes him the third New Zealand player to make the switch to France after the Rugby World Cup.

All Blacks star fly-half Dan Carter has already announced that he has signed a hree-year contract with Racing-Metro while fellow centre Ma’a Nonu will play two seasons at champions Toulon.

Thirty-three-year-old Smith has signed a two year deal with the French club and takes a wealth of experience with him to France as he is the most most-capped All Blacks centre at 85 caps.

Smith is the Hurricanes Super Rugby captain and was part of the 2011 All Black squad that won the Rugby world Cup.

Pau are well placed for promotion for the Top14 as they have a 14-point lead over their promotion rivals.

The ambitious French south-western club already have New Zealander Simon Mannix on their books so Smith will have some familiarity.

“I have loved my time playing rugby in New Zealand and really looking forward to what will be my last season here, but it feels like the right time for me move on and try something different,” Smith said in a statement released by the All Blacks.

“Having a stint in France will allow me to spend more time as a husband and father, which was the main motivation for me when I made the decision.”

“On behalf of the All Blacks, I want to publicly acknowledge the outstanding contribution Conrad has made — and continues to make — to the All Blacks,” said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.

“He is a world-class player and leader in our team and we look forward to that continuing this season. We in the All Blacks wish both Conrad and his wife all the very best for their new adventures next season.”

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