Super Rugby

Kaino ends All Blacks career, heads to France

Jerome Kaino (File)
Jerome Kaino (File)

Wellington - All Black flank Jerome Kaino announced his international retirement on Wednesday, saying he will leave New Zealand to play in France at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The two-time Rugby World Cup winner has 81 Test caps and played a huge role in New Zealand's successful 2011 and 2015 campaigns.

Announcing his decision in a post on Instagram, Kaino wrote: "After much speculation, I want to confirm that I will be leaving NZ Rugby at the end of the 2018 Blues campaign.

"I want to thank NZRU, Auckland rugby, the Blues and the All Blacks for the opportunities and constant development I have been given. My coaches, managers, physios, Docs, staff, sponsors, media for the years of support and guidance.

“Finally and most importantly to my FAMILY and the FANS the people who have made my career here in NZ such a special experience, you have been amazing, I will forever be grateful.

“But for now it’s back to work with my @bluesrugbyteam brothers."

"He helped set the benchmark for modern loose forward play with his dominant performances over the years," New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.

NZR did not say which French club the 34-year-old will join but he has been linked with Toulon, who last month announced the departure of loose forward Duane Vermeulen.

The All Blacks have a policy of not selecting overseas-based players and have able replacements at blindside flank in Liam Squire and Vaea Fifita.

Blues coach Tana Umaga said the American Samoa-born Kaino remained an integral part of his plans for the 2018 Super Rugby season.

"We are just at the start of a very important Super Rugby campaign and Jerome has a big part to play in that," he said.