All Black and Blues flanker Jerome Kaino who has been ruled out of this year's Super Rugby season has quit New Zealand Rugby to join the Japanese club Toyota.
Kaino was one of the stars of New Zealand's succesful Rugby World Cup campaign last year and has won 48 caps for the All Blacks.
The flanker played all but one minute in the Rugby World Cup campaign last year, was named player of the year in New Zealand and was a finalist for the IRB Player of the Year award.
The Blues flanker injured his shoulder playing Super Rugby for the Blues in Round 2 against the Chiefs and has had to have surgery which has ruled him out of rugby for at least six months.
Kaino had an option in his New Zealand Rugby Union contract to end it after the Super Rugby season and has excerised that clause.
Blues Coach Pat Lam said: "I have had the pleasure of coaching Jerome for nine years with Auckland and the Blues and to witness his growth as a man, husband, father and a rugby player has been inspiring.
"His tough decision to leave New Zealand rugby at his peak is an indication of his desire to look after his young family before himself and while it's a big loss to the Blues and the All Blacks, I am thankful for his contribution and service to our team."
"For the moment, he still has a lot to offer the Blues during this season, even if it is not from on the field where his dominance will be missed, but as a leader in our group."
NZRU CEO Steve Tew said: "On behalf of New Zealand rugby, we wish Jerome and his family well. He has been an outstanding New Zealand rugby player ever since his schoolboy days. We made a very strong bid to keep him here in New Zealand and would have loved for him to stay but, ultimately, we understand his decision."
Auckland Rugby and Blues CEO Andy Dalton added: "Jerome has been a fantastic contributor to both Auckland Rugby and the Blues for many years. As a player, he has gone from strength to strength, particularly in the last couple of years, and I commend him on his achievements. I very much hope to see him back here one day in the Blues jersey - and the black one."
All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen said while it was obviously disappointing that Kaino was leaving New Zealand rugby, he respected and accepted his decision.
"JK has been a key figure in the All Blacks for several years now and part of the backbone of the side. He is a top man and I have been lucky enough to see him grow and develop over his years in the black jersey.
"He will be missed but we wish him, his wife Di and their family all the very best, and we hope to see him back in New Zealand one day."