All Black Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow Heading to France

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CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 17: Tawera Kerr-Barlow of the New Zealand All Blacks goes through to score his second, his team's ninth, try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match between New Zealand and France at the Millennium Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The exodus continues. Tawera Kerr-Barlow will leave New Zealand at the end of 2017 to take up a three-year deal with French club La Rochelle.

The 26-year old has mass experience in all levels of the game and has represented his region and country at all levels. Kerr-Barlow made his Chiefs debut back in 2011 as the 198th player to represent the club. With just seven tries under his belt in 70 appearances in Super Rugby; it isn’t the output of points that got Kerr-Barlow into the All Blacks but it was his skill from the pocket.

Precise with his kicking and a potent counter-attack threat from the back of the ruck, Kerr-Barlow has showed all that and more so far in what will turn out to be his last season in New Zealand.

“It was an extremely hard decision to make, but I feel it is the right one for my family and myself”, Kerr-Barlow said.

In his 25 Tests for the All Blacks, 23 of those have been from off the bench. In 2016, Kerr-Barlow made five appearances under Steve Hansen’s All Blacks side and was awarded a starting role against Italy in Rome. Kerr-Barlow also had a massive impact for the All Blacks when he came off the bench in the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France in Cardiff.

How Tawera Kerr-Barlow’s Deal Impacts NZ Rugby

If his form from the last couple of weeks is anything to go by, Kerr-Barlow will again don the black jersey before leaving. He is the form halfback in Super Rugby early in the season, but he’s also playing without the pressure of Brad Weber chopping at his heels. Weber’s season is over after suffering a major injury at the Brisbane Tens in February, and the lack of competition for the starting halfback role appears to have cleared Kerr-Barlow’s mind to just focus on executing his game.

Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara are still the top two in that position; but 2018 is now wide open for someone to come and establish themselves in the conversation. A fully fit Brad Weber will be in the picture, but don’t forget about the likes of Bryn Hall and Mitchell Drummond either.

“Main photo credit”

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