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Chiefs hooker Elliot bids adieu

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017

Hikawera Elliot is the latest Chiefs veteran to announce his departure after this year's Super Rugby campaign.

The four-Test All Blacks rake has signed a two-year deal with US Oyonnax, who have recently won promotion to the elite French Top 14 championship.

A veteran of nine matches for the Maori All Blacks, Elliot's career was on tenterhooks in 2014, which he took off to recover from a serious neck injury.

Yet he returned to rack up his 100th Super Rugby game for the Chiefs in 2016 and has since gone on to make 115 appearances.

Also leaving the Chiefs are All Blacks halves Aaron Cruden and Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Ireland-bound winger James Lowe and coach Dave Rennie.

Elliot, 31, will end a nine-season stint with the Chiefs, having played a solitary season for the Hurricanes in 2008.

He said the club had helped him grow as a player and person, and that he left his "whanau" with mixed emotions.

The Hastings-born hooker has also played for Hawke's Bay, Poverty Bay, Taranaki and Counties Manukau at the provincial level since 2005.

"I'm moving abroad to tackle new challenges and experiences," Elliot said.

"The many fond memories, the lifelong friendships and Super Rugby titles I'll forever hold dearly.

"I'll always be a proud New Zealander, Maori and Chief."

Oyonnax had two New Zealanders for this year's successful promotion effort in former Tasman hooker Quentin MadDonald and former Wellington prop Hoani Tui.

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