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Reports: All Blacks star heading to France

Reports out of France claim that All Blacks star Ben Smith is France-bound after the Rugby World Cup.

French newspaper Midi Olympique believe Smith has agreed to a seven-month deal with Top 14 club Pau.

According to the report, Smith will join the side between December 2019 and June 2020.

The 32-year-old is reportedly then interested in a permanent move to Japan.

Should Smith shift to Pau, he will likely be reunited with former All Blacks teammates Colin Slade, Tom Taylor, Benson Stanley, Frank Halai and Jamie Mackintosh.

The French paper also reported that Top 14 glamour club Toulon are in talks with fellow All Blacks Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ryan Crotty.

According to the report, Milner-Skudder is in advanced stages of talks while Crotty’s negotiation is still getting off the ground. Other reported suitors include Lyon.

While France still remains the top destination for players looking to earn some cash before retirement, Japan has quickly become a contender to lure the services of All Blacks on short-term deals.

Earlier this week, All Blacks first-five eighth Beauden Barrett spoke out about a potential move following next year’s World Cup.

There is a lot to like about Japan,” he said at the All Blacks press conference in Tokyo.

“What I can say is there is good open communication with the coaches, my management and NZR and I am happy that at the right time I will make the right decision.

“I’ll leave it at that for now. When the time is right it will be obvious and I’ll make a decision.”

In other news:

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Reports: All Blacks star heading to France