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Kerr-Barlow to sever NZ links for France

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017    Getty Images

The 25-Test All Black who has played 70 games for the Chiefs, will leave a gap in the inside backs for the side, especially after first five-eighths Aaron Cruden announced his departure earlier in the season.

Kerr-Barlow said in a statement, "It was an extremely hard decision to make, but I feel it is the right one for my family and myself.

"I've always wanted to play rugby in New Zealand and to represent teams like Waikato and the Chiefs which is where my family comes from. It was a childhood dream of mine to become an All Black and it has been a privilege to represent my country," he said.

Kerr-Barlow said he had been thinking about the overseas move for the past few months.

"I had really good contact with the Chiefs and the All Blacks throughout the process, but ultimately the opportunity to play rugby with La Rochelle and experience the French culture with my family was the right decision for me," he said.

He said he was fully committed to assisting the Chiefs to another Investec Super Rugby title and wanted to make the most of his remaining time playing rugby in New Zealand.

Melbourne-born Kerr-Barlow moves to New Zealand in 2004, and was a product of Hamilton Boys' High School. He debuted for Waikato in 2009 and a year later was a member of the New Zealand Under-20 side that won the junior world championship in Argentina.

He made his Chiefs debut in 2011.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said, "Tawera is one of the nicest guys you'll meet and has been a pleasure to work with. Caring and competitive are two traits that stand out, but it's his work ethic and leadership around defence that makes him world-class. Tawera is in the form of his life."