Scott Fuglistaller has signed a two-year deal with the Melbourne Rebels.
The talented Wellington openside flanker confirmed yesterday he will head across the Tasman at the end of the Lions' national provincial championship campaign.
"I was approached a couple of months ago and the timing seemed right," the 25-year-old said yesterday. "I didn't want any distractions with the condensed ITM Cup, so I've kept it a bit quiet, but I signed a month ago."
Fuglistaller said his path was blocked at the Hurricanes with Jack Lam, Karl Lowe and Serge Lilo already on the books for next season.
That had made his decision easier and without any firm offers from New Zealand's other four franchises he decided on a fresh start.
"I will [miss Wellington], but it's a new opportunity. I feel like I've given it a real go here, so I'll leave with no regrets."
It's surprising New Zealand's other franchises didn't do more to keep Fuglistaller in the country.
A New Zealand under-19s representative in 2006, he has played 54 matches for Wellington since his debut in 2008 and has an immense workrate.
He was called up as a full member of the Hurricanes squad this year, but didn't take the field allowing him to head south to finish the season in impressive fashion for the Highlanders.
The southern franchise's first choice No 7, John Hardie, missed most of the year with a toe injury that remains an ongoing concern, while Doug Tietjens is the other specialist.
Fuglistaller will join Lions team-mate and fullback Jason Woodward and former Wellington hooker Ged Robinson in Melbourne from October 30.
And he confirmed that his Australian contract meant he would not be allowed to return for the NPC each year. He has committed to seeing out a three-year Australian residency period that would theoretically make him available for the Wallabies in 2015.
The Rebels openside flanker options this year included former England international Michael Lipman, former Blues flanker Tom Chamberlain, and NRL recruit Jarrod Saffy.
- The Dominion Post
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