Jerome Kaino has confirmed he will leave New Zealand Rugby at the end of this Super Rugby season.
The Herald revealed last week the 81-test All Blacks loose forward had made his decision to leave, and Kaino today confirmed he will depart for France after one final campaign with the Blues.
Kaino has been linked to Toulouse and Toulon. The 34-year-old is the third most capped Blues player behind Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock. He will also leave New Zealand with two World Cup triumphs, both of which he was a major contributor.
After much speculation I want to confirm that I will be leaving NZ Rugby at the end of the 2018 Blues campaign. I want to thank NZRU, 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. But for now it’s back to work with my @bluesrugbyteam brothers 💙 #onelastridewithmybrothers Faafetai Lava
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said: “On behalf of New Zealand Rugby, I’d like to acknowledge everything that Jerome has done for the game in New Zealand. He’s had a massive impact in the Auckland, Blues and All Blacks jerseys.
“He helped set the benchmark for modern loose forward play with his dominant performances over the years, highlighted by his outstanding play at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups.
“We wish him and his family all the very best.”
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen added: “Jerome will leave New Zealand rugby with our best wishes. He’s had a long and distinguished career in the All Blacks jersey and 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, which included helping win two Rugby World Cups.
“I’d like to thank him for his service and also want to acknowledge his wife Di and the family for their outstanding support for him and the team over many years. It has certainly been appreciated and we wish them all the very best wishes for the next chapter of their lives.”