Aaron Cruden has confirmed that he will complete a move to Montpellier from the Chiefs after the 2017 Super Rugby season, bringing an end to his time with New Zealand.
The 28-year-old, who joined the Chiefs in 2012, announced the news in a video posted on Facebook, revealing he had signed a three-year deal with the Top 14 club.
Cruden, who will be available for the Lions tour if selected, said: "It is with great sadness but also excitement that this will be my last year playing rugby here in New Zealand, representing Manawatu, the Chiefs, and also the All Blacks - three teams that I love dearly.
"But in saying that the excitement comes from the fact that I've signed a three-year deal with Montpellier, in France, a beautiful part of the world, a fantastic rugby club and a real opportunity for me to go out there and experience something different, something fresh.
"It's going to be a fantastic challenge."
Gallagher Chiefs co-captain Aaron Cruden has announced today he will be departing New Zealand after the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season. pic.twitter.com/VNnrneP5Rw-- Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) January 17, 2017
The announcement follows weeks of speculation, with Cruden long linked to a move overseas and New Zealand coach Steve Hansen having appeared resigned to losing him.
Cruden has won 47 caps for his country, but found himself behind Beauden Barrett at fly-half in recent months as Hansen's side set a record of 18 consecutive Test victories.
It remains to be seen if compatriots Ben Smith and Israel Dagg follow Cruden's lead and move to a European club.