New Zealand's Lima Sopoaga reacts after scoring a try against the Springboks in the 2017 Rugby Championship. Photo: REUTERS/Nigel Marple

WELLINGTON - All Blacks back-up flyhalf Lima Sopoaga will leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the season after signing with a club in Europe, the 26-year-old said on Thursday.

British media reported that he would be moving from the Otago Highlanders to English club Wasps next year, removing him from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's plans for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make but is one I'm at peace with," he posted on Instagram.

"I have loved every minute of being a professional footballer here in NZ, I've made life long friends and memories that I'll cherish forever.

"So here's to 2018 one last roll of the dice before I head off to experience life on the other side of the world. I'm ready."

Sopoaga made his All Blacks debut against South Africa in 2015 and played 16 tests but only got his second start in the loss to Australia last October as back-to-back World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett kept him out of the number 10 jersey.

He won the 2015 Super Rugby title with the Highlanders and his cool head and solid tactical game, backed up by his fine kicking from hand, should hold him in good stead in the English Premiership.

It's with a heavy heart that I announce that my family and I will be leaving NZ at the end of the 2018 season. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make but is one I'm at peace with. I have loved every minute of being a professional footballer here in NZ, I've made life long friends and memories that I'll cherish forever. I'd like to thank the Highlanders, All Blacks, Southland and Wellington for the awesome experiences you have provided me with over the years. Thank you to all the fans for your support it's been one heck of a ride. To my team mates and coaches/management over the years thank you for everything, I've been blessed to have met so many top men. Last but not least to my family & friends you know who you are the ones who have stood by me through the lowest of lows and the highest of highs you have seen both the valleys and the peaks, THANK YOU will never be enough! So here's to 2018 one last roll of the dice before I head off to experience life on the other side of the world. I'm ready. TheSops LS10

A post shared by Lima Sopoaga (@limasopoaga) on

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