Hurricanes management has confirmed Ben Lam will be leaving the club to play in France in the Top 14 at the end of this Super Rugby season.
Since his 2017 debut against the Brumbies, Lam has become an integral part of the Hurricanes squad.
Before that, he was an established member of the New Zealand Sevens team which won a silver medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Head Coach, Jason Holland, says Lam's speed and strength has made him a dominant force in Super Rugby. In his first full season in 2018, he supplanted All Black Julian Savea for the Hurricanes' left-wing job and notched a season-leading 16 tries.
• Super Rugby: Study shows huge bias by 'hometown' referees towards South Africa
• Rugby: How the Stormers can create Super Rugby history this weekend
• Super Rugby: The winners and losers from round three
• Super Rugby: Rieko Ioane back for Blues but news not so good for brother Akira
"When Ben first came to the club he was injured and worked really hard in rehab to get himself back into form. Since then, he has become a force to be reckoned with in all facets of the game and the team will miss his influence at training and on game day."
The 28-year-old departs for Bordeaux in August, where he will continue his rugby career at Bordeaux Bègles. The move of Fijian star Semi Radradra to Bristol left Bordeaux in the market for a similar player, and Lam appears now to be that replacement.
He says the decision stems from wanting a new challenge.
"Growing up, I always wanted to play Super Rugby and I'm truly proud that I've been able to do that. But I do feel in my heart that it's time for me to try something else."
Lam says until his departure, he remains entirely committed to Super Rugby and the Hurricanes.
"Ultimately, I enjoy winning and want to have a good season where we end on a high. There is still a lot of rugby to play and I want to make sure I give back to the team and all the loyal Canes fans.
"Since moving to Wellington, I've grown to love this city. It's my home now and I have enjoyed every second I've been able to play in this jersey."
Hurricanes CEO, Avan Lee, says Lam will leave big shoes to fill.
Lam's Super Rugby strike rate is currently up there with the best in Hurricanes history, with 29 tries in 41 Super games at a strike rate of 0.70 per game. His predecessor Julian Savea scored 50 tries in 116 games at a rate of 0.43 while franchise legend Christian Cullen finished with 56 tries from 85 games at a rate of 0.66.
"It's always disappointing for us to lose experienced players, especially as Ben's made an excellent contribution to the Hurricanes since 2017. We'll miss him a lot here but understand why he's leaving and wish him well on the next part of his career."
This story originally appeared on RugbyPass and was re-published with permission.
Catch all the weekend's Super Rugby on nzherald.co.nz and Sky Sport 1 from Friday at 7.05pm.