Luke Whitelock has spurned a chance to be the next All Blacks No.8 after signing a three-year deal with French club Pau.
Whitelock will leave New Zealand after the World Cup, joining the Top 14 outfit at the same time as All Blacks fullback Ben Smith, who he shares co-captain duties with at the Highlanders.
With seven Tests to his name and twice employed as a fill-in captain, Whitelock may have been an option to replace regular skipper Kieran Read at the back of the scrum from next year. Read is leaving for Japan after the World Cup.
However, the tough-tackling 28-year-old has joined a growing group of Kiwi Test players to announce their departure for northern hemisphere club contracts.
Whitelock is the youngest of three All Blacks brothers.
Lock Sam Whitelock is a Test centurion while flanker George Whitelock played one Test in 2009.