ZB

All Blacks and Blues star heading to France

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 18 May 2022, 12:15pm
Karl Tu'inukuafe of the Blues. Photo / Photosport
Karl Tu'inukuafe of the Blues. Photo / Photosport

All Blacks and Blues star heading to France

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 18 May 2022, 12:15pm

All Blacks and Blues prop Karl Tu'inukuafe will be heading back to France at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old will join Top 14 side Montpellier next season, having previously played in the French second division with Narbonne in the 2015/16 season.

Tu'inukuafe, a former club bouncer who turned his life around and lost 30-40kg, has been one of the feel good rugby stories since returning to New Zealand, where he linked up with the Chiefs as injury cover and would go on to make a remarkable rise to the international stage with the All Blacks.

Since making his international debut in 2018, Tu'inukuafe has played 25 tests for the All Blacks.

He made the move to the Blues in 2019, but has had struggles with illness and injuries. He has been limited to just five appearances for the Blues off the bench this season.

In an interview with the Herald last month, Tu'inukuafe revealed he's struggled with debilitating back pain over the last three years, which almost drove him to retirement.

The Blues confirmed Tu'inukuafe's departure in a social media post.

"We would like to announce that Karl will finish his time with the Blues at the end of this season," The Blues said.

"The 'Big Uce' has been a massive part of our squad and its successes over the last three years. Toko, we wish you and your family all the best with the next chapter of your life."

Tu'inukuafe's move will take him out of the frame for the All Blacks ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France, a big loss of experience for the team's prop stocks.

With All Blacks loosehead Joe Moody out for the season, the race for the No 1 jersey will likely come down to Ethan de Groot, Alex Hodgman and George Bower.