All Blacks 81-test veteran likely heading to France after Super season after sliding down pecking order in 2017.

Jerome Kaino is expected to announce his departure from New Zealand rugby in the coming weeks.

No paperwork has been signed, and terms yet to be fully agreed, but after deliberating over the offseason the 81-test veteran is believed to have decided to move offshore at the end of this Super Rugby season with the Blues.

French club Toulouse is favoured to secure his signature but Toulon have also been in the mix.

The move will come as no surprise to most rugby followers, with Kaino sliding down the All Blacks blindside pecking order after enduring a difficult 2017. Rumours of a potential shift to France first emerged in December.

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By the end of last year, Liam Squire and Vaea Fifita were firmly established ahead of Kaino in the All Blacks, while Akira Ioane also continues his development.

With Kaino turning 35 in April it was always going to be a long road back.

In a worrying sight, he hobbled out of the Blues final preseason game in Warkworth on Thursday with another injury, this time his ankle, and remains in doubt for next week's season-opener against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Nearing the end of his three-year contract, Jerome Kaino was probably facing a pay cut to remain in New Zealand. Photo / Photosport
Nearing the end of his three-year contract, Jerome Kaino was probably facing a pay cut to remain in New Zealand. Photo / Photosport

Kaino's last test came in the third assignment against the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park last July.

A prolonged two-month absence followed while he dealt with personal issues, allowing Squire and Fifita to push their credentials. Kaino returned to feature at No 8 for the All Blacks against the Barbarians in November but damaged knee ligaments in that match and was eventually forced to return home, opening the door for Ioane's call-up.

Before that injury, Kaino was slated to start the final test of the year against Wales in what would have been a chance to mount his test comeback. Injury robbed him of that opportunity, and he now appears to have played his last test.

Nearing the end of his three-year contract, Kaino was probably facing a pay cut to remain in New Zealand and chase a spot in next year's World Cup squad.

European offers are likely to be double what he could earn here.

Having won two World Cup crowns, and been an influential member of the 2011 and 2015 campaigns, Kaino has already reached the pinnacle and slugged it out with the Blues for the best part of 12 seasons.

Whatever happens from here, he will be regarded as one of New Zealand's greatest No 6s.

Given the lay of the land and stage in his career, no one could begrudge him cashing in.

In other news, Jason Emery has been released from the Hurricanes to join Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown at the Sunwolves.

The Manawatu midfielder is comfortable anywhere from second five-eighth to fullback, and will be a welcome addition to the Sunwolves squad.

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