All Blacks loose forward Liam Squire has confirmed he will depart New Zealand after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, having signed a two-year deal with Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
"It seems like the right time to go. I have really loved my time in New Zealand with the Tasman Mako and in particular down here with the Highlanders," said Squire.
"It's a club that gave me a chance and I appreciate the support I have had in the South. I am certainly keen to have a really good last season with the guys."
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen wished Squire all the best for his departure.
"Liam has grown into an outstanding rugby player since coming into the All Blacks in 2016 and we again look forward to seeing how he goes this year. His physicality, pace and skills are a real point of difference and he's a really well-rounded player. We wish him all the best for his Japanese adventure next year."
Hand injuries have restricted the 27-year-old's appearances for the All Blacks to 23 caps. At his best he is a bruising defender and ball-carrier but the nature of his preferred game has taken its toll physically.
The Japanese club scene is far less demanding and allowed former enforcer Jerome Kaino to cash in financially and recuperate physically after the 2011 World Cup before returning to the international scene.
It's possible Squire is hoping for a similar scenario. The Highlanders are well served for loose forwards, with All Blacks Jackson Hemopo, Shannon Frizell and Luke Whitelock effectively vying for Squire for two positions.
Hurricanes player Vaea Fifita is also in the mix at No6 for the All Blacks, while Crusaders loosie Jordan Taufua is aiming to make the World Cup squad before leaving to Leicester.