Smith next to go

All Blacks centre and Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith will join French club Pau after the World Cup in England.

The 33-year-old will join his international teammate Ma'a Nonu in heading overseas at the conclusion of this year's showpiece event, after signing a two-year deal with the French Pro D2 team.

'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 to move on and try something different,' said Smith. '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.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew paid tribute to Smith, who is the most-capped centre in All Blacks history, saying he exemplified everything that was great about the game of rugby.

'He is an outstanding person, one of New Zealand rugby's most consistent players over the last decade and hugely-respected by all who know him.

'We owe Conrad, and others who have represented their teams so well over many years, a great deal of gratitude.'

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was similarly effusive in his praise of Smith, who will be looking to add to his 85 Test caps before calling time on his international career.

'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 as the All Blacks wish both Conrad and his wife all the very best for their new adventures next season.'

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images