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Elliot departs for French rugby satisfied

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/05/2017

Hikawera Elliot says he has no regrets as he calls time on his New Zealand rugby career to join French club side US Oyonnax on a two-year deal. © Scott Barbour/Getty Images Hikawera Elliot says he has no regrets as he calls time on his New Zealand rugby career to join French club side US Oyonnax on a two-year deal. Hikawera Elliot says he has no regrets as he calls time on his New Zealand rugby career to join French club side US Oyonnax on a two-year deal.

The Chiefs hooker has played four games for the All Blacks and clocked up 126 Super Rugby matches for the Hurricanes and Chiefs since 2008, but felt the time was right to bid adieu.

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

"I'm on the other side of 30 now - I'm not getting any younger and I think my days of playing for the All Blacks are probably done," Elliot told reporters.

"I've been thinking about it the last couple of years and it's time for a change, to take on some new challenges, get outside my comfort zone."

The 31-year-old, who is trying to guide the Chiefs to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, doesn't believe he'll have another shot at Super Rugby.

He'll likely retire after completing his stint in France with Oyonnax, who have recently earned promotion to the French Top 14 championship.

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

"I wanted to leave on my terms, and having won a couple of Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs," Elliot said.

"I feel I've accomplished all I can in New Zealand at this stage."

However, the nine-time Maori All Black is keen to play one final game for the Maori representative side against the British and Irish Lions when they clash in an "unofficial fourth Test" in Rotorua on June 17.

"It's a team I hold dearly," Elliot said.

"I don't know if they're going to go for experience or someone a little bit younger with an eye to the future, but hopefully they'll go for an older statesman."

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