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Faumuina to depart for French rugby

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Yet another All Blacks stalwart has secured a lucrative move to French rugby, this time tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina.

The affable Blues player, famous for his bushy beard, will join Top 14 powerhouse Toulouse at the end of next year's Super Rugby season.

He has played 46 Tests for New Zealand since his 2012 debut and is likely to make his last appearance in the black jumper against the Lions in July.

"I'm looking forward to my last season in NZ, making it a successful one with the Blues and hopefully getting the chance to play for the All Blacks," Faumuina said.

The 30-year-old's announcement comes just days after the contract renewal of first-choice tighthead Owen Franks through to the 2019 World Cup.

Franks, a 90-cap Test veteran and dual World Cup winner, has typically kept Faumuina out of the Test side's starting XV.

Faumuina started in just 12 of his 46 All Blacks caps, including two against Namibia and Georgia in last year's seven-match march to the Webb Ellis Trophy.

He was a substitute in the side's 34-17 World Cup final win over Australia.

Despite this, the loss of the 127kg Faumuina will serve as a blow for boss Steve Hansen, given his ability to play on both sides of the scrum.

"I think Charlie will delight in the Top 14, which is a championship that will value his qualitiies," Toulouse sporting director Fabien Pelous said.

"Solidity, power and reading the game."

Faumuina will not be the only Kiwi in the Occitane capital, however, joining compatriot, former Chief Carl Axtens, and former All Blacks second-five Luke McAlister.

He'll also play alongside former France legend Thierry Dusautoir, who skippered Les Bleus in their 2011 World Cup final loss to New Zealand.

"I've only heard compliments about the club from those who had the chance to play there," Faumuina said.

"I know the club is ambitious and aspires to win titles."

Faumuina's departure may presage a glut of All Blacks departures to Europe, with stalwarts Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden all fielding big offers.

The trio, who come off contract in 2017, remain in negotiations with NZ Rugby for extensions through to the 2019 World Cup.

Skipper Kieran Read is also yet to sign a new deal, but is expected to do so.

World Cup winners Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Victor Vito, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith have all moved to France since last year's cup triumph.

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