Elliot Dixon has signed a contract with the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan, a move which will presumably rule him out of the All Blacks' loose forward mix this year.

Highlander Dixon, who has played three tests for the All Blacks, will join the Black Rams in Tokyo after this Super Rugby season.

The Black Rams' website is reporting Dixon's signing, and that of Crusaders midfielder Tim Bateman.

Dixon, 28, represented the All Blacks in 2016 and while he has been overtaken in recent years by fellow blindside flanker Vaea Fifita, he might have been on the selectors' radar after the injuries to Kieran Read and Liam Squire.

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Skipper and No 8 Read will miss next month's three tests against France, while Squire is unlikely to be available for the first one at Eden Park on June 9 due to a broken thumb.

Highlander Luke Whitelock, Crusader Jordan Taufua and Blues player Akira Ioane are all in the mix as All Blacks loose forwards this year.