The Top 14 in France has long been an alluring destination for southern hemisphere players, with Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Tana Umaga and more all making the journey in recent years as their careers entered their twilight.
More recently however, with English and French top flight clubs growing flush with money, more and more younger players have migrated north to sign lucrative contracts.
Latest to pack his bags and leave behind his international career is Chiefs scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who has, according to PlanetRugby, signed a three-year contract to Top 14 leaders La Rochelle.
The move was officially announced by the Chiefs via their Twitter profile.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow will join La Rochelle at the end of the season, signing a three year deal. We wish Tawera all the best in France! pic.twitter.com/m9bJRogGEY
— Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) March 14, 2017
The 26-year-old Australia born New Zealand international has lined out in the famous all black strip over 20 times but his decision to leave Super Rugby side the Chiefs at the end of the year looks like he is happy with that lot and has chosen to follow fellow high flying All Black Aaron Cruden to France.
Cruden famously signed for Montpellier in recent months and will link up with the French and new head coach Vern Cotter after the summer.
Kerr-Barlow’s move to France will see him join up with compatriots Jason Eaton and Victor Vito but admits it was a hard decision to leave his native shores.
“I’m excited to announce that the next chapter of my rugby career will be with La Rochelle in France.
“It was an extremely hard decision to make, but I feel it is the right one for my family and myself. I’ve always wanted to play rugby in New Zealand and to represent teams like Waikato and the Chiefs which is where my family comes from. It was a childhood dream of mine to become an All Black and it has been a privilege to represent my country.
“Over the past couple of months I’ve thought long and hard about going overseas. 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.
“At this point in time, I’m 100 percent focused on helping the Chiefs to another Super Rugby title and making the best of every moment I have left to play rugby in New Zealand.”
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
On this week’s edition of The Oval Office Podcast, Lee Byrne tells us what’s gone wrong with Wales and how many dragons are likely to feature for the Lions.