Highlanders midfield back Seilala Mapusua has turned his back on a possible All Black jersey to join the London Irish club in Britain.
Mapusua has signed a deal with the famous club in the English Premiership and will be leaving Dunedin after playing the new Air New Zealand Cup compeition with Otago at the end of October, NewstalkZB reported.
Otago rugby chief executive Russell Gray said they cannot compete with the money being offered by northern hemisphere clubs.
Gray said it was disappointing, but accepted that Mapusua has got to do what is best for himself. That means Mapusua will play his last home Vodacom Super 14 game this Friday when the Highlanders play the Waratahs at Carisbrook.
The 26-year-old Mapusua has been playing provincial rugby since his debut for Counties Manukau in 1998 and has been in Otago since 2000. He has been with the Highlanders since 2002 and has become a mainstay of their backline.
He played two tests for the Pacific Islanders team in 2004 – once against the Springboks. He remains eleigible for the All Blacks but his decision to head offshore means his 2007 World Cup chances now lie with his native Samoa.