Ben Smith confirms New Zealand Rugby departure
Last Updated: 13/12/18 10:17am
Ben Smith is looking forward to a fresh challenge after confirming he will leave New Zealand Rugby after the 2019 World Cup.
The Highlanders and All Blacks winger is heading to France to join Top 14 side Pau, whose president Bernard Pontneau revealed the move in an interview with RMC Sport on Tuesday.
Smith has scored 33 tries in 76 appearances since making his international debut for New Zealand in 2009, and he was part of the side that won the World Cup in England in 2015.
"I'm excited about the opportunities that may present themselves in the future, but I also realise that my playing time with Otago, the Highlanders and the All Blacks now has an end point," he said.
"In your heart, you want to play forever, but in your head you know that's not possible.
"In the playing time I have remaining, I'm pretty keen to experience a fresh, new challenge. I think it will be good to be involved in a new environment and a foreign culture for a while, I'm sure it will be a bit of an adventure for both myself and my family.
"Dunedin will always be where I call home and I'm one short of playing my 50th game for the 'Grizzlies' so I still have a little unfinished business here yet."
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said of Smith: "Ben will leave New Zealand with the very best wishes of everyone involved in the All Blacks.
"He's a special person and an outstanding rugby player who has always given - and will continue to give - 100 per cent to the All Blacks jersey.
"He has been a key member of the All Blacks leadership group for many years and captained the team against Samoa last year.
"We'll get to thank Ben, his wife Katie and his family personally for his contribution to New Zealand Rugby next year, when the All Blacks season resumes, but for now we want to congratulate him on everything he has achieved."