The Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph says the departure of his All Blacks winger Hosea Gear to a two-year deal in France is a smart move, given Gear's age and his uncertain place in the New Zealand team.
Gear's joining up with the French Top 14 side Toulouse after the Super Rugby season, joining the exodus of players heading offshore, including fellow All Blacks such as his Highlanders team-mate Tamati Ellison, the Chiefs' Richard Kahui and the Blues lock Anthony Boric - who are all heading to Japan.
But Joseph doesn't think Gear's move is as unexpected or disappointing as some recent defections.
The coach says with Gear being around 30 and in and out of the All Blacks, the shift to France is an astute decision so he can look after his family financially.
Gear will start on the left wing for Saturday's Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy match against the Blues in Dunedin, but Joseph has benched two of his underperforming All Blacks.
Halfback Aaron Smith and midfielder Ma'a Nonu will ride the pine in Dunedin, while another out-of-form international, the prop Tony Woodcock, is out with injury.