All Blacks captain Kieran Read is disappointed Blues loose forward Steven Luatua has decided to call it quits in New Zealand.
Luatua's joining English club Bristol after this year's Super Rugby competition.
What started as a promising Test career in 2013, Luatua's time in the black jersey never lived up to expectation in his 15 appearances.
Read said the 25-year-old could've had a bright future with the All Blacks.
"I saw him as a guy who made some great strides last year, and someone who really could have an impact on New Zealand rugby and the All Blacks.
"It's a bit sad to lose a guy like this, but it's an individual thing. It is tempting and you can't begrudge anyone if they want to go down that route," Read said.
Read made the comments at today's 2017 Super Rugby launch in Auckland.
Despite being a five country competition, it was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the New Zealand teams who stood out last year with their hard hitting, fast and attacking rugby.
The Crusaders captain said he expects another similar season to last season.
"I think you'll probably be at the top of the table if you win the New Zealand conference.
"That's just how strong the teams we've got here are this year. They'll be tough games, everyone knows each other really well so it'll be brutal, fast and exciting rugby."
The team to beat will undoubtedly be last year's champions, the Hurricanes, though they don't believe they have a target on their back.
Halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi says being the defending champions accounts for nothing this year.
"It just gives us the mindset that we have to go out there and earn the title.
"If we want it, we'll get it so we can't really rely on last year's structures to get us through this year," Tahuriorangi said.
The first game of the season is next Thursday between the Melbourne Rebels and the Auckland Blues.