Pau - All Black flyhalf Colin Slade has signed a three-year contract with
Pau, who have just won promotion to the Top 14, the club confirmed on
Slade, 27, is considered the fourth-choice flyhalf in New Zealand behind Beauden Barrett, Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden.
Slade, who has played for the Crusaders for the past year after
previously lining up for the Highlanders, joins a club which is coached
by former All Blacks No 10 Simon Mannix.
"This recruitment once again underlines the club's ambition," said
Mannix after Pau assured their promotion from the second division ProD2
with a 31-5 victory over Montauban at the weekend.
"Colin Slade is one of the top 10 in the world who has reached his
peak at 27 years of age. For me, Colin is a really, really good
all-round player and a really nice young man off the pitch.
"I can tell you that he's arriving at Pau in a very good state of mind and is a player can only pull the team higher."
Slade said it was not an easy decision to walk away from New Zealand
rugby following the World Cup, but he was excited by the challenge
"I have given it a lot of thought and considered all my options, but I
am now satisfied that moving to Pau after this year is the right
decision for me at this point in my life," Slade said.
"Pau is a club with great ambition that is really keen to establish
itself in France, and the chance to play in the Top 14 and potentially
European Cup is an exciting new challenge for me.
"I want to make it clear that I still have goals to achieve this year
and remain absolutely committed to giving 100 percent until I leave,"
Slade is reported to have clinched a salary of more than €500 000 a year, with the Otago Daily Times claiming the
27-year-old, 17-times capped All Black would earn around €660 000.
Slade's move comes as a blow to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who
said last week that Slade, valued for his ability to also play wing and
fullback, "has got a really big future. We have got the Olympics next
year, for a start".
"They are keen to take one of the five-eighths, probably Barrett I would say," Hansen said.
"He's (Slade) got plenty of Test matches left in him, it's just a matter of whether he wants to stay and do that."
Slade, who will also miss out on playing against the British and
Irish Lions in 2017, will join up with another All Black, centre Conrad
Smith, at Pau.
Smith signed a two-year contract with the southwestern side and will join up with the French club in the foothills of the Pyrenees after the September 18-October 31 World Cup in England.
Apart from Slade and Smith, the Top 14 will also see Ma'a Nonu
(Toulon) and Carter (Racing-Metro) playing next season, while
twice-capped utility back Francis Saili (Munster) and winger Charles
Piutau (Ulster) have both recently signed to play in Ireland.