WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks fullback Ben Smith has confirmed he will quit New Zealand rugby to play in France after the 2019 World Cup.
The 32-year-old veteran of 79 tests is expected to be the first of a large group of senior All Blacks who will end their test careers after the World Cup in Japan.
Smith said he is “excited about the opportunities that may present themselves in the future but I also realize that my playing time with Otago, the Highlanders and the All Blacks now has an end point. In your heart you want to play forever, but in your head you know that‘s not possible.”
Coach Steve Hansen said Smith had been a key member of the All Blacks‘ leadership group.
Smith is expected to sign with the French club Pau.