'I have loved every minute' - Lima Sopoaga confirms New Zealand rugby departure

All Blacks first-five Lima Sopoaga has confirmed his departure from New Zealand Rugby, announcing today that he will join English Premiership side Wasps after this year's Mitre 10 Cup season.

Sopoaga, 26, has played 16 Tests for the All Blacks, taking to Instagram today to confirm that he will add his name to a long list of New Zealand players to ply his trade in the Northern Hemisphere.

"It's with a heavy heart that I announce that my family and I will be leaving NZ at the end of the 2018 season," he wrote.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make but is one I'm at peace with. I have loved every minute of being a professional footballer here in NZ, I've made life long friends and memories that I'll cherish forever."

"Thank you to all the fans for your support it's been one heck of a ride."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen also gave Sopoaga his blessing, saying that he didn't begrudge the playmaker's decision.

"We're disappointed to be losing Lima but we understand his reasons for leaving. He has been upfront and communicated with us through the process and when he leaves, he and his young family will go with our best wishes. Our job now will be to develop the next player to take his place."

Sopoaga will play out this year's Super Rugby season with the Highlanders, as well as the Mitre 10 Cup campaign with Southland before his departure.

Lima Sopoaga celebrates against South Africa
Lima Sopoaga celebrates against South Africa Source: Photosport