All Blacks and Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn has announced that he will leave New Zealand and play Top14 Rugby for Toulouse after the Super Rugby season.
Thirty-three-year-old Flynn made the announcement on his Facebook page and said that he had signed a two-year contract with Toulouse and plans to move with his family to France later this year.
"Hey all I thought I should let you know that after the super rugby season I will be finishing up at the Crusaders," said Flynn.
"It has been an amazing ride (it's not over yet) and the best 13 years of my life. I have been lucky enough to play in some great teams with guys I grew up watching on TV as well as the stars of today, it has truly been a dream come true.
"From August I will be taking up a 2 year contract with Toulouse in France, the family and I while sad to be leaving are really excited about this next adventure we are about to embark on. And Toulouse play in red and black so it won't be to much of a change."
Flynn made his All Black debut against Canada in the 2003 Rugby World Cup which was held in Australia.
Flynn was also a member of the 2011 Rugby World Cup winning All Black squad but since Steve Hansen has taken over from Graham Henry Dane Coles has moved ahead of Flynn in the selection order.
Crusaders hooker Flynn joined the Super Rugby franchise from Southland also paid tribute to former Crusaders coach Robbie Deans for giving him his break.
"I would like to thank NZRU and the Crusaders for the last 13 years also to Robbie Deans for giving a boy from Invercargill a chance to live his dream. "
"Mum and Dad deserve special mention as well as if they hadn't kick my ass and told me to get fit who knows where I would be.
"Also to Kerilee Flynn and Liam Flynn Sienna and Seth I love you guys with all my heart you are my biggest supporters and source of motivation and I wouldn't wanna be on this ride with anyone else xxx."
"This has been a really big decision for me and my family, but we are confident that it is the right thing for us at the moment and now that the decision has been made we're really looking forward to it," Flynn said in an additional statement.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach confirmed that Flynn would complete the current Super Rugby season before leaving for Toulouse.
"I know that Flynnie remains fully committed to the Crusaders at the moment and the time for a fitting farewell for him will be at the end of this season, but on behalf of the entire organisation I just want to acknowledge what a huge contribution he has made and what a legacy he will leave behind," Mr Riach said.
Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder also acknowledged Flynn's contribution to the Crusaders, "Corey is the most capped Crusader in history with 142 games to his name to date, so there is no denying that he will leave a hole when he departs.
"We have some very talented young hookers ready to step in and fill that gap, but the hole he leaves as a senior player with so much experience and mana is harder to fill. We will miss his presence around here but we fully respect his decision to go on his own terms and wish him the best for the future."
Flynn will depart before the ITM Cup season starts so will not play any more games for Canterbury, which Canterbury Head Coach Scott Robertson called "the end of an era".
"When a stalwart like Corey moves on it feels like the end of an era because they've been so influential to the team over such a long period of time. We'll all miss having Corey around but we'll be supporting him from afar while he plays for Toulouse, and know that he'll be continuing to pay a keen interest in the progress of this Canterbury team," Robertson said.