Brumbies player Peter Kimlin will join French club Grenoble. Photo: Jay Cronan
THE opportunity for a new challenge after a decade at the ACT Brumbies convinced Peter Kimlin it was the right time to leave Australian rugby and sign a French deal for next season.
But while the versatile big man is preparing to join Top 14 club Grenoble, he hopes his decision to leave will not jeopardise his chances of playing for the Wallabies this season.
Kimlin has signed a one-year deal with Grenoble, with an option to extend his stay for an extra 12 months. This will end the former Canberra Grammar student's time at the Brumbies after he started with the club in the academy program in 2002.
The 27-year-old was torn between trying to build a Brumbies dynasty in Super Rugby or taking a chance to play abroad in Europe or Japan.
His desire for a fresh start won out, but he says the Brumbies are a ''special group'' capable of claiming the championship. ''As much as I'd love to stay in Canberra, it's an opportunity to live overseas and I couldn't really not take it,'' Kimlin said.
''If in 10 years I looked back and didn't take a chance to live in France … I'd be silly not to take it.
''This Brumbies group is a special one to be a part of. We've been in the dumps and now we're coming back up.
''But this has been in my head for the past two or three years, so I knew it was coming.''
Kimlin told Brumbies coach Jake White of his decision on Saturday after the ACT side beat the Melbourne Rebels 30-13 to secure back-to-back wins to kickstart their Super Rugby campaign.
White is starting to put his squad in place for coming years and will use the bye week to find which players want to stay in Canberra.
With Kimlin leaving, White will probably search for another lock or blindside flanker to add to his roster for the coming seasons.
Grenoble is fast becoming an international home-away-from-home for ex-Brumbies.
They already have Ben Hand, Anthony Hegarty and Henry Vanderglas on their roster, with prop Dan Palmer and now Kimlin joining them next season.
Kimlin went to Canberra Grammar and joined the Brumbies academy when Laurie Fisher was the development coach 10 years ago. He made his Super Rugby debut at Canberra Stadium in 2007 and then played his first Test for the Wallabies in the capital against Italy in 2009.
But shoulder and knee injuries in 2009 and 2010 halted his progress through the Australian ranks in a period Kimlin described as the toughest of his career.
He managed just two Tests for the Wallabies before nerve damage in his shoulder put his international career on hold.
But now fit and returning to his best form, Kimlin is aiming to add to his Test cap tally before moving to France.
''Hopefully this decision doesn't jeopardise any potential Wallabies selection,'' Kimlin said.
''I'd love to return to Australia after playing in France if I'm playing good footy. I'm not closing the door on Australian rugby.''