Twice World Cup-winning All Black Victor Vito will head to France to play for Top 14 side La Rochelle after finishing the Super Rugby season with the Wellington Hurricanes.
The 33-cap loose forward, a member of both New Zealand’s World Cup squads for the 2011 and 2015 tournaments, haS signed a three-year deal, the Hurricanes said on Wednesday.
The move means Vito will forfeit his chance to play for the All Blacks for at least the duration of his contract but the 28-year-old said it made sense for his young family.
“It’s never easy to fight the ego and say no to the chance to represent your country, but my young family trumps my ego any day, especially when there is a chance to provide them with a better future,” Vito said in a media release.
A natural number eight who could also play blindside flanker, Vito struggled to retain his position in an All Blacks back row boasting Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino.
But he found form at the right time to be selected in Steve Hansen’s World Cup squad last year and was named in the match-day squads for the semi-final against South Africa and final win over Australia.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for me in the All Blacks being in and out of the side for the past six seasons and if I’m honest I probably wasn’t mentally ready until 2014,” he said.
“Luckily for me Steve Hansen and the other coaches persevered and over the past two years in particular I’ve been pretty proud of what I’ve done in the black jersey.”