The Blues have hailed the signing of All Blacks star Beauden Barrett on a new four-year deal as the most significant in the history of New Zealand professional rugby.
Barrett, the 73-test All Black first five-eighths, is ending an eight-year association with the Hurricanes to join the Blues as part of a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby that will take him through till the 2023 World Cup.
Blues chief executive Michael Redman said the signing coup had been "years in the making" and was the most important player change the competition had ever seen.
"While Beauden's personal circumstances created this opportunity, changes we've made to our club in recent years meant for the first time the Blues were a credible option for him.
The process has been long and complex, but we believe the outcome is the most influential player movement in Super Rugby history," he said.
All Black Beauden Barrett was all smiles as he announcing his contract with the Blues.
Barrett's move north to his wife's home town has been speculated for some time, but still comes as a surprise after the 28-year-old had played all his Super Rugby with the Hurricanes – the franchise his father, Kevin 'Smiley' Barrett appeared for early in professional rugby, from 1997-99.
A NZ Rugby announcement confirmed Barrett would change franchises in a deal that includes two other notable clauses.
The two-time World Rugby player of the year will take an extended break from the game after this year's World Cup and will not join the Blues until midway through next year's Super Rugby competition.
That's something Blues coach Leon MacDonald said he was happy to live with.
There is also provision in the new deal for Barrett to take a "short" sabbatical in Japan. The terms of that, the announcement said, would be negotiated with NZ Rugby and the Blues.
Barrett broke into provincial rugby for Taranaki (then a Hurricanes affiliate) in 2010 and made his Hurricanes debut a year later.
He scored 1238 points over his 125 matches for the Hurricanes.
Barrett's move to play for the Blues is in contrast to All Blacks predecessor Dan Carter's decision to remain with the Crusaders despite moving to Auckland with his family in the latter years of his Super Rugby career.
Carter commuted to Christchurch for the Super Rugby season.
Barrett's signing potentially lifts the Blues from perennial pretenders to championship contenders.
The struggling outfit have finished bottom of the New Zealand conference for the last six seasons and have clearly lacked an elite playmaker to run an otherwise potent backline.
Barrett's inclusion should now add the direction, running threat and kicking game that has been badly missing at 10, though his late arrival for next season will create its own issues.
-Story from Stuff NZ