All Blacks and Chiefs midfielder Richard Kahui has confirmed he is off to Japan at the end of the looming Super Rugby season.
Kahui, 27, has had his hand forced by repeated shoulder injuries over recent seasons and is poised to return from the latest shoulder reconstruction surgery this season.
He underwent further minor surgery last Friday to help speed his latest recovery and is unlikely to be available for the Chiefs' first match of the 2013 Super Rugby season against the Highlanders in Dunedin next Friday night, February 22.
"I love being a Chief, but it is no secret that I have had my fair share injuries which have forced me to make some very hard decisions about my future and make the most of the opportunities while I can," the 27-test All Black said.
Kahui has signed a two-year deal with the Toshiba club in Japan and will head there at the end of the Super Rugby season in early August.
That means his test career with the All Blacks comes to an end, having made his debut for the national side in 2008 and proved a versatile back able to play in his specialist centre spot or out on the wing where he was a key member of the Rugby World Cup winning side in 2011.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said Kahui had been an outstanding team member, having played over 50 games for them.
"I have been really impressed with him as a man, as a player and as a leader within our group," Rennie said.
"He has an opportunity to set himself up for his future and we are fully supportive of what he is doing and hope to get him back for 2015."
Born in Tokoroa, Kahui made his debut for Waikato in 2004 and got his first taste of Super Rugby in 2006 for the Highlanders as a drafted injury replacement.
He then debuted for the Chiefs the following year and has since played 56 times for the latter side.
Kahui scored a try on his test debut for the All Blacks in June, 2008, against England. He was sidelined in 2009 with a major shoulder injury that kept him out of rugby for six months and again last year. The Chiefs head to Mangatainoka to play the Hurricanes on Saturday in their last pre-season fixture but Kahui is unlikely to take part in the match.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Can the Chiefs make it three in a row in 2014?Related story: (See story)