Rokocoko seals Bayonne switch
May 23, 2011
Rokocoko has reportedly signed a two-year deal with the option of a third © Getty Images
All Blacks winger Joe Rokocoko has become the latest New Zealand player to sign for Top 14 side Bayonne.
The 27-year-old, who has scored 46 tries in 68 Test appearances, has put pen to paper on a lucrative two-year deal with an option for a third after apparently shunning a last-ditch bid by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) to keep him in the country.
The Blues speedster, who is out of contract with the NZRU following this year's Rugby World Cup, will join fellow Kiwi recruits Sione Lauaki and Neemia Tialata at the Basque club next season, along with French international winger Cedric Heymans, while Australian lock Mark Chisholm is reportedly on the brink of signing.
"He is still young and will bring us a lot of experience," Bayonne director of rugby Christian Gajan said of Rokocoko. "And he is one of the top five or six players we wanted recruit to improve the squad. He is also versatile and can play wing, centre or fullback.
"We had to compensate for the departure of about ten players. Now we've got a squad of about 30 plus about ten youngsters form [local clubs] Reichel and Crabos. Now we just need a big second-row."
Rokocoko paid tribute to Auckland and the Blues after confirming his decision to leave New Zealand.
"This is the one of the biggest decisions I've had to make in my life," he said. "I first played for the Blues and then the All Blacks as a teenager eight years ago and along with Auckland, they have been my rugby family ever since. To move away from that and my life in New Zealand is such a major step but the time has come, and my wife and I are excited to be facing a new chapter in our lives with our young son."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape