Highlanders have confirmed that hooker Ash Dixon will leave the club with immediate effect.
Dixon joined Highlanders in 2015 after a stint with Hurricanes and went on to make his 100th appearance for the club during the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final against Blues earlier in the year.
The 32-year-old also co-captained the side along with Aaron Smith over the past few seasons and will now head to Japan for the next two seasons to feature in the Japanese League One competition.
He went on to win the 2007 Under 19 Rugby World Championship with New Zealand Under 19 team and also the 2008 IRB Junior World Championship with the Under 20 side. In October 2016, he was named the captain of the New Zealand Maori for their Northern hemisphere tour.
Speaking to Highlanders official website, Dixon admitted that it was a tough decision to leave the club but is now looking to gain experience in playing overseas in Japan.
“I’ve put a lot of thought into it and it was not an easy decision for myself and my family to make, I’ve had some incredibly great times with the team, and I will cherish them forever.
“The fans have been absolutely incredible the love and kindness shown to me and my family has been amazing, and we will be forever grateful, thank you all so much.”
Highlanders Head Coach Tony Brown said Dixon lavished praises on Dixon and his contribution with the club.
“Ash will be remembered as one of the great Highlander’s men; his contribution to the club both on and off the field has been immense, as co-captain he has been the ultimate professional and we wish him, Mikayla, Paiyton and Boston all the very best with this fantastic opportunity.”