All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson has confirmed the inevitable, signing a two year deal to play in Japan.
He will play with the Canon Eagles, a new team that has just completed their first season in Japan's top division.
Thomson's future has been in limbo after he wasn't included in the Super Rugby system despite being a Highlanders stalwart.
He was subsequently picked for the All Blacks end of year tour to Italy and Britain.
Thomson, 31, finishes with 29 tests and a World Cup winner's medal.
Thomson struggled to command a regular starting position, blocked at No 7 by Richie McCaw and stalled in the other back row positions as Jerome Kaino (blindside flanker) and Kieran Read (No 8) established themselves as world class players.
But his versatility was a key to keeping him in the All Blacks mix.
"I'm excited to be embarking on the next stage of my career with the Canon Eagles in 2013 but jointly saddened to be closing a significant chapter of my life," he said in a statement.
"I'm humbled and proud to have had the opportunity to represent Otago, the Highlanders and the All Blacks throughout my career.
"The experiences and friendships I have made will last a lifetime and my heart will always remain with New Zealand rugby. I will be forever grateful to the coaches, fellow players, and fans that have made this journey possible."
Thomson will be in familiar company at the Eagles with former Highlanders teammates Callum Bruce and Kane Thompson on the club's roster as well as former All Black Isaia Toeava.
- © Fairfax NZ News