It's seems entirely appropriate that Paul Tupai, a man who enjoys a beer after rugby, will spend the next few years playing in European competitions like the Heineken Cup.
Tupai, who hung up his Bay of Plenty Steamers jersey in October, has signed to join English premier club Northampton Saints, where he will play alongside former All Blacks Carlos Spencer and Mark Robinson and be captained by Bruce Reihana.
It will be somewhat of a reunion for Tupai and Robinson, who were co-captains of a Rugby News New Zealand Youth side which toured Germany in the early '90s.
The durable Steamer, who brought up his 100th game for the Bay when the Ranfurly Shield was lifted in 2004, took advantage of his recent Northern Hemisphere tour and test status with Manu Samoa to impress English judges.
The Rotorua born and bred 30-year-old is expected to turn out in the top flight European competitions early in the New Year.
Tupai had considered retiring from all levels of football after the 2005 NPC season but when he was selected for Michael Jones' Manu Samoa squad to tour Australia earlier this year, the 11-season Steamer with 115 games under his belt was revitalised.
By the time he was halfway through the recent European tour he was looking for a club andkeen to extend his professional career.
"They [senior Samoan players] kept talking about these `gold cards'. I didn't know what they meant, so I asked and they told me as a Samoan international we had a passport to play in England," Tupai said.
As a Manu Samoa international, Tupai is treated as a local player and doesn't have to fit any overseas qualification categories. He can basically jet in, lace on his boots and play.
It is understood English contracts for Manu Samoa internationals start from $150,000 per season, although in England players still have to pay for their accommodation and living expenses.
The former Rotorua storeman originally thought he'd be on the field for their Boxing Day fixture with competition leaders Sale Sharks but he wasn't able to get visa documentation to leave Rotorua with his wife Nadine and children Leah (11) and Connor (6) in time.
Tupai said Northampton coaches Budge Pountney and Paul Grayson were impressed with his uncompromising style and signed him as a blindside flanker.
Rangiuru coach Bob Moorhead said they would feel the loss of Tupai next season.
"He's the ultimate team man _ I've never seen someone so keen on laying his body on the line for his club and his province.
"He'd let himself be run over by a bus if he thought it would help his teammates in some way!"
"We'll miss him next yearbut I'm delighted he's going to finally get something back out of rugby. He doesn't owe his club or the Bay anything."
Northampton currently sit second to last in the Guinness Premiership but things can only go one way as far as Tupai is concerned.
After beating French side Narbonne 22-7 during the weekend, Northampton are on target for a quarter final spot in the European Challenge (Heineken) Cup. The next round is on January 14 when they host Bristol at Franklins Gardens.
Tupai is likely to make his debut against Bristol on New Year's day in front of a packed 15,000 capacity home ground. While Northampton have struggled to get results so far in the 2005-6 Guinness premiership, they are a popular team, sitting second on attendances in the 12-club competition.