Wellington - Former All Black scrumhalf Andy Ellis will play for Japanese club Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers when the current Super Rugby season ends.
Ellis, 30, who played the most recent of his 26 Tests for New Zealand as a replacement in the 2011 World Cup final, will miss New Zealand's National Provincial Championships this year and the start of the next Super Rugby season.
Ellis said his temporary move to Japan was not an indication he has given up on again playing for the All Blacks.
In a statement on Friday, Ellis said: "This is certainly not a sign of my playing days in New Zealand coming to an end. I am just fortunate to have the ability to play rugby in Japan, which is something I've always wanted to do."