Former Chiefs wing Bryce Heem has ended his time with French giants Toulon and returned to New Zealand due to “major family reasons’’.
The 32-year-old, who also played for the All Blacks Sevens, played as recently as Sunday for Toulon, scoring a try in the four-time French champions in their 35-13 win over Stade Francais in the Top 14.
However, a statement from the club confirmed Heem’s exit, while a report from French outlet Rugby Rama stated that his motive for the swift exit came down to “major family reasons’’.
“‘Human’ and ‘family’ values ??are essential in the Rugby Club Toulonnais project,” the Toulon statement read.
“So the decision to release Bryce Heem from his contract became obvious. President Bernard Lemaitre thanked Bryce ‘for his attachment to the club and his human qualities’.”
Toulon head coach Partrice Collazo added that Heem was a well-regarded, high-quality player who was “able to unite by his skills but also and above all by his irreproachable state of mind” during his time in the south of France.
Heem’s departure brings the curtain down on a two-year spell with Toulon after joining from Premiership outfit Worcester Warriors in February 2019.
Since then, Heem scored six tries in 25 outings for Toulon, adding to his tally in the Northern Hemisphere after dotting down 32 times for Worcester in 70 matches.
Prior to that, the heavily-built speedster made a name for himself in New Zealand, initially coming through the provincial ranks with Auckland and Northland before flourishing with current Mitre 10 Cup champions Tasman.
Heem’s efforts for the Mako earned him a contract with the Chiefs for the 2015 season, of which he featured regularly in as he scored four tries in 16 appearances.
He also spent three years with the All Blacks Sevens between 2011 and 2014, during which time he helped New Zealand clinch three World Sevens Series titles and a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Heem leaves Toulon as they sit in third place on the Top 14 standings, 10 points adrift from league leaders Toulouse.
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