All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett has confirmed his move to the Blues after putting pen to paper on a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby (NZR).
Barrett will move to the Blues after eight years at the Hurricanes where he played 125 games for the Wellington-based franchise, and was a part of the 2016 championship-winning side.
The signing will be a massive coup for the Blues who have failed to make the Super Rugby playoffs since 2011.
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The Auckland franchise has also failed to find a long-term first-five in that time as well - all three of their playmakers for the 2019 season were under 25 (Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta and Otere Black).
As part of his new contract, he will take an extended break away from the game at the end of 2019 and start with the Blues midway through next year's Super season.
He also has an option to take a short playing break in Japan some time over the next four years, with any break to be negotiated with NZR and the Blues.
"This is obviously a massive decision for me and my wife Hannah and we're really looking forward to the next chapter of our lives," said Barrett.
"The Hurricanes will always be a huge part of who I am. The Hurricanes environment and style of rugby they play has helped me become the player I am today, and I'll be leaving some very good mates.
"Wellington has been my rugby base for many years and university base for Hannah and we'll always have fond memories of living there. Home for us now is Taranaki and Auckland and home and family are immensely important to both of us.
"I'm also enthusiastic about the new challenge I'll get with the Blues over the next four years. They're a team on the rise, I like the way they play and I'm really looking forward to being a part of that.
"While I'm looking forward to what the future holds, right now my focus is on the international season ahead with the All Blacks."
Blues Head Coach Leon MacDonald said they were over the moon at the news that Barrett would be coming to Auckland.
"It's huge for our club," said MacDonald. "As well as getting a world-class player, our young first-fives will flourish with the opportunity to train and play alongside Beauden, and I am sure he will be an immediate fan favourite at Eden Park.
"We are happy to work with Beauden and New Zealand Rugby on the options he has negotiated for an extended break at the end of the year and potential offshore playing opportunity. He has earned that right.
Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee said he was disappointed to see Barrett leave, but understood his reasoning for why.
"We know Beauden plans to live in Auckland but we wanted to reach an agreement which would have still kept him at the Hurricanes for at least some of the four years," he said.
"Given the flexibility that is being afforded our top players to keep them involved in New Zealand rugby, we hoped that Beauden's long and distinguished career would continue at the Hurricanes. The process has been challenging but we sincerely thank him for everything he has done for the Hurricanes. He has been a great ambassador for our club and we wish him well.
"Beauden has made it clear that his decision to leave the Hurricanes were for non-rugby reasons and we respect that. He leaves us as someone who has made a contribution few can compare to and we thank him for that."
Barrett will fly out with the All Blacks to Argentina on Friday to begin preparations for the opening Rugby Championship games against Argentina next Sunday.
Join us on July 21 for live updates of the All Blacks v Argentina Rugby Championship clash