Ben Smith heading to France - reports

Shifting seamlessly between fullback and wing for the All Blacks, Ben Smith has already defied...
Ben Smith looks set to join French side Pau after the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Photo: Getty Images
Ben Smith is the latest All Black heading overseas, according to reports out of France.

The star fullback and Highlanders legend has signed a seven month deal with French club Pau, reports French newspaper Midi Olympique.

According to the paper, Smith will join the French top 14 side between December 2019 and June 2020 after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The 32-year-old, who will win his 74th All Black cap tonight against the Wallabies, is then said to be interested in heading to Japan after his France stay.

Pau are also interested in the services of All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea who has been linked with a move overseas for a while now.

The French paper also reported that big spenders Toulon are in talks with Hurricanes outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder and Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty.

According to the report, Milner-Skudder is in advanced stages of talks while the Crotty negotiations are still in its infancy. Lyon are also reportedly interested in signing the pair.

Ben Smith breaks the tackle of a French player earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images
Ben Smith breaks the tackle of a French player earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images
The reports suggest that France are still likely to be the main destination for All Blacks looking to cash in overseas.

But Japan has quickly become a serious contender to lure the services of All Blacks on short-term arrangements, with the prospect of a two-season in one year structure in the Japanese Top League.

Earlier in the week, Beauden Barrett spoke out for the first time about a potential move overseas after 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."

Veteran All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are also interested in a short-term move to Japan after next year's World Cup.

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