Wellington Lions coach Jamie Joseph says Tamati Ellison's decision to take up a two-year deal in Japan at the end of rugby's Super 14 season is a big blow for the province.
The Wellington and Hurricanes utility back has ended any hopes of a place in the All Blacks World Cup squad next year by signing a lucrative contract with an as-yet unnamed Japanese side.
Ellison made his All Blacks Test debut against Italy last year.
Joseph says Tamati has been part of the Wellington line-up but having made a similar move himself in the 1990s, he understands Ellison's decision.
The NZRU has a policy of only selecting players based in New Zealand for the All Blacks.
Ellison's agent, Bruce Sharrock, says the player is turning his back on domestic rugby in order to secure the financial future of his young family.
Wellington and Hurricanes chief executive Greg Peters says New Zealand franchises are still unable to compete with the financial packages being offered overseas, despite the global economic downturn.
The 26-year-old Ellison has been one of the form players in New Zealand over the past two seasons and made his test debut against Italy at the end of last year.
He's currently in South Africa with the Wellington Hurricanes, who play the Stormers in a Super 14 game in Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZ time).