All Blacks prop signs with Toulouse

International
AFP
by AFP

New Zealand prop Charlie Faumuina has signed on with French club Toulouse but said Thursday he still wants to be available for the All Blacks when the British and Irish Lions tour next year.

 The 46-Test veteran, who can play both sides of the scrum, will join Toulouse at the start of the next European season.

Charlie Faumuina will come on to the bench. Photo: Getty Images"I'm looking forward to my last season in New Zealand, making it a successful one with the Blues and hopefully getting the chance to play for the All Blacks," he said in a statement.

The 30-year-old's decision to leave New Zealand comes after first-choice tighthead prop Owen Franks confirmed he was staying through to the next World Cup in Japan in 2019.

Faumuina and Franks were both members of the All Blacks squad that retained the World Cup last year, with Faumuina taking the field as a replacement during the final against Australia.

His decision to leave at the end of next season leaves All Blacks coach Steve Hansen with the decision whether to retain Faumuina for the 2017 Tests or blood a new prop two years out from the next World Cup.

Charlie Faumuina in training with the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesFaumuina said he was looking forward to joining Toulouse, one of the leading sides in the French Top 14 club championship table.

"Toulouse has a rich history and proud record. I have only heard good things from the people I talked to who played for the club and I'm sure the fans will support me," Faumuina said.

"I'm sure I will enjoy the type of rugby they play. I know Toulouse is an ambitious club who aims to win titles. The Top 14 is a tough league, but I'm looking forward to play in such a competitive competition."

Another three All Blacks -- Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden -- are off contract next year and are also believed to be considering lucrative offers to join French clubs. 

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