CHRISTCHURCH: All Black Ma'a Nonu cites family reasons for his decision to play his Super Rugby for the Highlanders next season.
The 72-Test midfielder, who spent this year with the Blues, says the final details of his new contract are still to be completed.
But he says he's excited to be continuing his career in New Zealand.
In a coup for the Highlanders, the 30-year-old Nonu follows All Blacks' prop Tony Woodcock in making the move from the Blues.
Former Crusaders' lock and 2011 World Cup winner Brad Thorn is rumoured to be heading to the Highlanders as well.
However, the loss of Nonu leaves a big hole in the backline options for new Blues' coach John Kirwan.
"I'm really excited about the prospect for me and my family," Nonu said today.
"Just on the Blues, I really respect JK [Kirwan]. I wish him all the best but, right now, I think this is the best decision for me and my family."
Nonu is in camp in Christchurch with the All Blacks ahead of the final Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
He said he spoke to Kirwan last week about his plans.
"It's got nothing to do with the Blues," he said.
"It's a decision I've made for myself and my family."
Nonu joined the Blues after 110 appearances for the Hurricanes over nine seasons.
His departure from the Wellington-based franchise came after differences with coach Mark Hammett.