Rocket man to fly off

by staff

French club Bayonne have announced the signing of New Zealand star Joe Rokocoko.

The Fiji-born wing, who has scored 46 tries in 68 Tests for the All Blacks, will link up with Bayonne following this year's World Cup in New Zealand.

Rokocoko, 27, has agreed a two-year deal with the option of a third year, moving to Europe from Auckland Blues.

After his parents moved to New Zealand when he was five years old he made his debut for the Blues against the Waratahs in 2003 and has scored 40 tries for the side. He made his All Blacks debut also in 2003 having played Test and Super Rugby before he had appeared for Auckland. In his debut Test season he broke the world record for tries in a calendar year when touching down 17 times in 12 Tests.

Rokocoko played for NZ Under-16 in 1999, NZ Schools in 2000-02, NZ Under-19 in 2001-02, NZ Under-21 in 2002 and the NZ Sevens team in 2002-05.

And he becomes Bayonne's latest big-name signing for next season following their recruitment of All Blacks forwards Neemia Tialata and Sione Lauaki, plus Toulouse's France international wing Cedric Heymans.

"He is a passionate guy who is not coming here on holiday," Bayonne sporting director Christian Gajan told the club's official website.

"He is still young and will bring us a lot of experience, and he is one of the top five or six players we wanted to recruit to improve the squad. He is also versatile and can play wing, centre or fullback."

Gajan said the club needed to compensate for the departure of 10 players and with 30 players signed it was now looking for a big second row.