Although we have come to expect former All Blacks to make their way to European clubs in search of a lucrative contract before retirement, the last few years has seen many promising young players also make their way north.
This week Charlie Faumuina became the latest player to do so, opting to leave New Zealand behind in favour of joining a Toulouse. With the likes of Ben Smith, Aaron Cruden and Israel Dagg yet to sign new deals with the New Zealand Rugby Union, the tighthead might not be the only current All Black to join a European club in 2017,
Not only are All Blacks now considering moving to Europe at the peak of their careers, but some like Charles Piutau decided to move to Europe after winning just 16 caps. At 25 years of age, Piutau may well return to New Zealand, but his move may prove to be an unwanted watershed moment for the All Blacks.
Piutau is not the only promising All Black in his 20s to sign with a northern hemisphere side, Colin Slade joined Pau at 28, while John Afoa has been plying his trade in Europe since he was 27.
The result is that there is now a very a substantial number of former All Blacks playing in the European Leagues, with creative backs being in most demand.
As a result, we have been able to put together two European based kiwi XVs, one from France and the other in the UK and Ireland.
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We review the festive fixtures and look back on 2016 – The Year That Was
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena