Steven Luatua's decision to quit New Zealand rugby for Bristol is a big blow for the Blues as media reports he would have been central to Tana Umaga's plans to revive the long‑suffering giant.
A jubilant Bristol made the announcement overnight, with Luatua to join them for the 2017/18 season.
There was no official word out of New Zealand Rugby this morning.
There was no detail on the length of the contract.
The 25‑year‑old Luatua, who will join the Pat Lam‑coached English club for the 2017/18 northern season, represents a significant loss for New Zealand rugby because he is a current test candidate who should be in the prime of his career.
Meanwhile, the Blues will kick off their Super Rugby Season against the Rebels next Thursday.
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