Slade signs three year deal with French club Pau

All Blacks and Crusaders fly half Colin Slade has signed a three year contract with French Rugby club Pau who have just won promotion to the Top14.

Twenty-seven-year-old Slade has kept Dan Carter out of the Crusaders No.10 jersey this season but is fourth in line for the All Black No.10 shirt.

Slade was called up for the 2011 Rugby World Cup but was injured. In the All Black selection order he is behind Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.

Slade joined the Crusaders last year after spending time with the Highlanders and will join Pau who are coached by former All Blacks No.10 Simon Mannix.

“This recruitment once again underlines the club’s ambition,” said Mannix after Pau assured their promotion from the second division ProD2 with a 31-5 victory over Montauban at the weekend.

“Colin Slade is one of the top ten in the world who has reached his peak at 27 years of age. For me, Colin is a really, really good all-round player and a really nice young man off the pitch.

“I can tell you that he’s arriving at Pau in a very good state of mind and is a player can only pull the team higher.”

Slade is reported to have clinched a salary of more than 500,000 euros ($529,000) a year, with the Otago Daily Times claiming the 27-year-old, 17-times capped All Black would earn around 660,00 euros ($698,000).

Slade’s move comes as a blow to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who said last week that Slade, valued for his ability to also play wing and fullback, “has got a really big future. We have got the Olympics next year, for a start”.

“They are keen to take one of the five-eighths, probably Barrett I would say,” Hansen said.

“He’s (Slade) got plenty of Test matches left in him, it’s just a matter of whether he wants to stay and do that.”

Slade, who will also miss out on playing against the British and Irish Lions in 2017, will join up with another All Black, centre Conrad Smith, at Pau.

Smith signed a two-year contract with the southwestern side and will join up with the French club in the foothills of the Pyrenees after the September 18-October 31 World Cup in England.

The Crusaders have now confirmed that Slade will join Pau after the Rugby World Cup.

Slade said he had not found it easy to come to the decision to play overseas but he was now excited about the opportunity.

“This is certainly not a decision taken lightly. I have given it a lot of thought and considered all my options, but I am now satisfied that moving to Pau after this year is the right decision for me at this point in my life,” Slade said.

“Pau is a club with great ambition that is really keen to establish itself in France, and the chance to play in the Top 14 and potentially European Cup is an exciting new challenge for me. My wife and I are also excited to have the opportunity to live in the South of France and travel around Europe in between rugby commitments.

“I am very grateful for my time here in New Zealand and have been honoured to have played in some great teams, alongside many of the best players in the world.

“I am also grateful to NZ Rugby for their genuine efforts throughout the decision making process. I want to make it clear that I still have goals to achieve this year and remain absolutely committed to giving 100 percent until I leave,” Slade said.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder said he was disappointed to be losing a player of Colin Slade’s calibre: “Sladey is a hugely talented player who has been a key cog in this team in the last couple of seasons. We brought him back to the Crusaders because we knew he had a lot of great rugby left in him, so clearly we are sad to be losing him at the end of this season. However we respect his decision to move on and will send him off at the end of the year with our very best wishes.”

Apart from Slade and Smith, the Top 14 will also see Ma’a Nonu (Toulon) and Carter (Racing-Metro) playing next season, while twice-capped utility back Francis Saili (Munster) and winger Charles Piutau (Ulster) have both recently signed to play in Ireland.

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