Former All Black flanker Liam Messam is leaving New Zealand to extend his career

Departing All Blacks and Chiefs loose forward Liam Messam hopes his decision to leave New Zealand for France will extend his rugby career.

Last week, it was confirmed the 43-Test veteran had signed a two-year deal with the French glamour club, after originally being linked to Lyon.

The 33-year-old has had an illustrious career in New Zealand, which included a record 161 games for the Chiefs, and he will depart for the south of France at the conclusion of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Messam admits it was a tough decision to make, but after a stint in Japan, he realised this would be the perfect opportunity to extend his playing career.

"I'm 34 this year, so to get an opportunity like I did for a couple of years and to push my career out longer is a reason why, but just to travel and live the French lifestyle," Messam told Newshub.

"I've had three seasons in Japan and that opened my eyes up to the world. I enjoyed the culture, the food, everything about it, so that got me really excited about going to France.

"I've always wanted to play in the European Cup, and I've always had the itch to go play up there and see what it is like, compared to Super Rugby.

"It took a lot of thinking and it is a big move to move everyone up to France, but at the end of the day, I thought it was the right call, so we will see how it goes." 

But before all that, Messam has one thing he wants to desperately achieve - to help the Chiefs defend their Brisbane Tens title at Suncorp Stadium next month.

Liam Messam and Sione Lauaki.
Liam Messam and Sione Lauaki. Photo credit: Photosport

The Tens hold a special place in Messam's heart, as the Hamilton-based franchise won the 2017 title on the day (February 12) former Chief Sione Lauaki suffered renal failure and passed away.

The former All Blacks Sevens star originally planned to fly back to New Zealand straight after the quarter-finals, but changed his mind and stuck around to lead his team to victory instead.

Messam hopes the Chiefs will use the weekend to honour the 17-Test All Black.

"It's exciting to go up for the Tens, but remembering our former brother, and it's going to be on that same weekend, so it's going to be a reminder to me and the team that it's a day we lost one of our good mates.

"You never want to lose anybody and when we lost Wax [Lauaki's nickname], it was a reminder to just live life, and enjoy life and the small moments, enjoying my kids, because he left behind five beautiful kids.

"I want to make sure I live every moment I can with my family, and live those moments and take nothing for granted."


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