All Blacks centre Crotty to join Kubota Spears
New Zealand centre Ryan Crotty will leave the Crusaders and join Japanese club Kubota Spears after the Rugby World Cup.
The 30-year-old has made 142 Super Rugby appearances for the champions since making his debut 11 years ago and has won 44 Test caps for the world champions, but he will move on at the end of the year.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read last month announced he will finish his Test career to link up with Toyota Verblitz following the World Cup in Japan and Crotty will also ply his trade in the Top League from next year.
"The All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury rugby have been such an important part of my life and I'm grateful for every opportunity I've had to represent my country, my province and my family over the years," Crotty said.
"I'm a proud Cantabrian and Christchurch will always be home, but I'm really looking forward to taking on a new challenge in the Top League as part of the Kubota Spears club.
"I know I'll look back at the end of my career in New Zealand with really fond memories of the experiences I've had and what I've achieved alongside my good mates, but for now my focus is enjoying the season ahead and helping to lead this Crusaders side one last time in 2019."
Thank you for the past 11 seasons Crotts! Stoked to have you for the remainder of this year but sad to see you go #notaprilsfools All the best in Japan from 2020!! Read more over at https://t.co/i7LoeeqOQi#thankyoupic.twitter.com/FgSGSQH4bA— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) April 1, 2019
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: "Crotts has been one of the mainstays of our midfield for many years and is a world-class footballer.
"He's a very physical, well-balanced rugby player, an outstanding communicator and decision-maker, who runs great lines and has a great pass. He's been a real asset to the All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury and will leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the season with our very best wishes."
One All Black who will not be ending his international career is scrum-half Aaron Smith, who on Monday signed a two-year deal with New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders.