Veteran All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock has confirmed he will move to France, after the Rugby World Cup in the same country later this year.
Whitelock, 34, had previously signalled he would take up an offshore contract and has signed for two years at Pau, where his brother Luke has played since 2019.
The 143-test second-rower debuted for the national team in 2010 and has shared in two World Cup triumphs, serving as captain on several occasions throughout his career and forming a record-breaking locking partnership with Brodie Retallick.
He has also logged 176 games for the Crusaders, helping them to six Super Rugby titles.
Whitelock told his teammates several weeks ago and his public announcement lifts a weight off his shoulders, as the Crusaders enter the business end of the Super Rugby campaign, chasing their seventh straight crown.
He admits the prospect of playing with his brother again had appealed for a while.
While the French contract will take Whitelock into his late 30s, he doesn’t discount a return to the Crusaders at its completion.
Former All Blacks prop Afoa, 39, became Super Rugby’s oldest-ever player, when he turned out for the Crusaders last weekend, answering an SOS, amid a front-row injury crisis.