One of the most respected players to wear the Bay of Plenty and Chiefs colours will join Toshiba in Japan after the Super Rugby season ends.

Te Puke's Tanerau Latimer joins former Chiefs players Richard Kahui and Stephen Bates on the playing roster.

"I was up there about three weeks ago and the boys showed me around the club and the town," said Latimer.

"It was a real good experience and I know my wife is looking forward to getting up there and getting immersed in the culture.

Advertisement

"Rugby is not forever so we may as well do this while we can, and you will always have home to come back to."

This year's Bay of Plenty squad is missing the name Tanerau Dylan Latimer for the first time in a decade.

But the 28-year-old hopes this is not the end of his association with Bay of Plenty rugby.

"I would love to come back home one day and be involved somehow whether as a PDM (player development manager) or a coach within rugby.

"I don't think I could leave the game or the province that easily."

Latimer made his debut for the Steamers aged 19 in 2005 and has one game that sticks in his mind.

"In 2009 we played Canterbury at Baypark and we were massive underdogs but the boys had a blinder of a game and we managed to beat them (19-17)."

Latimer's career ticks all the boxes from All Blacks Sevens selection when he was still at Tauranga Boys' College, to captaining the Maori All Blacks, highly successful tenures with the Steamers and Chiefs, and of course, the ultimate prize - the All Blacks.

"It is a funny thing really as the satisfaction box always keeps revolving," he said. "For me personally, I moved past All Blacks and I had something else to look forward to in helping the Chiefs win Super titles."

Chiefs centurion Latimer has two round robin games left to play - against the Hurricanes in Hamilton tomorrow night, and then the Blues at Eden Park a week later.

There is still a chance the Chiefs could make the play-offs but one certainty is Latimer will play every minute before he leaves for Japan as if his life depends on it.