New Zealand’s star centre Conrad Smith has agreed a deal to join PROD2 side Pau on a two year deal after the Rugby World Cup later this year.
85-times capped World Cup winner Smith is widely regarded as one of the finest centres in world rugby decided to make the move before he retires from the game.
“I have loved my time playing rugby in New Zealand and really looking forward to what will be my last season here, but it feels like the right time for me move on and try something different,” Smith said. “Having a stint in France will allow me to spend more time as a husband and father, which was the main motivation for me when I made the decision.”
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen paid tribute to Smith, saying: “On behalf of the All Blacks, I want to publicly acknowledge the outstanding contribution Conrad has made – and continues to make – to the All Blacks. He is a world-class player and leader in our team and we look forward to that continuing this season. We in the All Blacks wish both Conrad and his wife all the very best for their new adventures next season.”
Although Pau are on course to earn promotion to the Top 14 next season, it does show the current financial clout of French clubs as one of the best players in world rugby has agreed to join a side currently plying their trade in France’s second division.