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The Blues confirm departures of two All Black props among nine leavers

By Ben Smith
Nepo Laulala of the Blues runs out for his 100th Super Rugby Game during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on February 25, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Blues have confirmed a post-World Cup move to France for All Black prop Nepo Laulala who has signed with a Top 14 club, while another All Black Alex Hodgman also has been farewelled by the club.

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The Blues confirmed the news in a tribute video but did not fully disclose where 32-year-old Laulala is headed, only to say he would be reunited with the ‘Big Uce’.

That would suggest Laulala is headed to big spenders Montpellier where former teammate Karl Tu’inukuafe has signed.

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Laulala had re-signed with NZR on a one-year deal for 2023 and will leave New Zealand as a Super Rugby centurion after stints with three clubs, the Crusaders, Chiefs and Blues.

He has represented the All Blacks 45 times since his debut in 2015 and was a key member of the 2019 World Cup squad.

Laulala and Hodgman join Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Beauden Barrett as All Blacks moving on from the franchise.

A surprise among the departures was emerging star Caleb Tangitau, currently with the New Zealand U20s and capped by the All Blacks Sevens in 2022, who was listed as ‘headed to Paris in 2024’.

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The 20-year-old has yet to debut in Super Rugby and his departure would almost be unprecedented for a top age-grade New Zealand talent.

Other departures include experienced lock James Tucker, son of former All Blacks assistant Taine Plumtree, flanker Tom Robinson, and fullback Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.

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1 Comment
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Lesley 392 days ago

"capped by the All Blacks Sevens in 2022, who was listed as ‘headed to Paris in 2024’."... anyone would think he might be going to the Olympics... hardly an unprecedented departure.

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