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Jerome Kaino is departing New Zealand Rugby and heading to France

Sport 28/02/2018

All Blacks forward Jerome Kaino has announced his departure from New Zealand Rugby.

The 34-year-old will make his way to France at the end of the current Super Rugby season, where he'll likely join Toulouse.

Kaino leaves behind a decorated career in New Zealand which includes two World Cup wins and a nomination for World Player of the Year in 2011.

"After much speculation I want to confirm that I will be leaving NZ Rugby at the end of the 2018 Blues campaign," Kaino said via social media.

"I want to thank NZR, 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."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised Kaino for a "distinguished" career in the black jersey and his imposing skillset.

"He brought a physicality and skill level to his game which made him the best in the world in his position. He can be rightly proud of everything he has achieved in the All Blacks," he said in a statement.

Blues coach Tana Umaga was quick to praise his side's talisman and insisted the focus would be to send him off in a winning fashion.

"We certainly salute and honour Jerome for his incredible contribution to this club both on and off the field," he said.

"We are just at the start of a very important Super Rugby campaign and Jerome has a big part to play in that.  Our players will want to send him off in the best possible way by our work on the field and building performances."