Charlie Faumuina will quickly become a crowd favourite when he pulls on the Toulouse jersey on next year's European circuit.

While many of us delightedly recall the subtle running, mystical skills and intricate passing French backs have brought to rugby, passionate club supporters save their greatest admiration for the men in the front row.

They revere the large men with the smallest numbers on their backs, blokes who are charged with carrying the honour of the club and setting those standards in the macho scrum and maul contests.

Toulouse will get that ballast at tighthead from Faumuina and much more if the 30-year-old stays fit and tuned for the next phase of his rugby career.


For such a big man Faumuina has an array of ball-handling and running skills which will raise the ooh-la-la levels amongst his club and opposing teams. He's got a sharp turn of speed, a dainty move or two from those massive legs and the ability to charge ahead or time his offload to a teammate.

Then there's the full beard, a big set of pearly whites and a mischievous sense of humour which will circumnavigate any translation dramas and if he stays for some time, come out once he's become more fluent in the language.

Faumuina probably has a good five years of top footy left in him once he plays out his final campaign with the Blues and then tussles for a role against the touring Lions.

He could have stayed but with primary All Black tighthead Owen Franks signed on until the next World Cup and other props hunting down the backup duties, Faumuina chose to give it a go in Europe. It was time to cash in on his skills and offer his wife and young family a change of pace and lifestyle.

He'd have to forego the All Black trimmings and a chance at the 2019 World Cup in Japan but based in Europe, he'd spend much less time away from home as he concentrated all his energy on playing for Toulouse.

Only an All Black in his prime like Faumuina would comprehend the enormity of the decision and the emotions involved as he weighed up his choices before the media release came with the stock lines abut a great time in NZ and an opportunity to mix it in the Top 14 in Europe.

It may have been a no-brainer for the 46-test All Black or he may have spent months fretting about the pros and cons of moving on. Only Faumuina and others like Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden who are mulling over offers, know what its like.

They can gather all the advice from their agents, people on the All Black staff, lawyers, tax consultants and others who have played in Europe, but in the end they have to decide what suits them.

For the most-capped All Black Richie McCaw that was to play out his days in New Zealand while for rookie outside back Charles Piutau it was to leave at an early age.

Faumuina is somewhere in the middle and has chosen to give it a go in Europe. Bonne chance Charlie, make the headlines for all the right reasons in Toulouse.