Munster Rugby have confirmed that Rhys Marshall will be the final player to leave the province at the end of the current season.
The 28-year-old Kiwi hooker has made 81 appearances for the province, scoring 15 tries.
Marshall made the move from Super Rugby side the Chiefs in 2016 and hit the ground running with an impressive 50 appearances in his first two seasons.
He also featured in Munster’s historic win over the Maori All Blacks at Thomond Park in November 2016.
“After four-and-a-half years it is with great sadness that I announce my time with Munster is coming to an end,” he explained.
“It has been an honour to pull on the red jersey for such a special side and I would love to have the opportunity to continue playing here, however, it’s not to be right now.
“Thank you to all the lads I’ve had the privilege of playing alongside and the mates I have made. And to the fans, you make this team what it is – the atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I hope to be back here someday.
“Thank you all for your continual support, with a special mention to the Waterford crew, that kept my spirits high even while I was injured.
“I have absolutely loved being here, Limerick and Ireland have truly felt like home for the last while and I would like to thank everyone who has made time for me and my family.
“Being a long way from home, the warm meals, warm hearts, and cold beers have been what has made this the biggest adventure of my life so far.
“We welcomed our little girl earlier this year and she carries a special tribute to our Irish journey by her middle name – Áine, queen of the Munster fairies.
“We shall be returning home to New Zealand at the end of the season where I hope to continue playing the game I love. Thanks again for everything.”
Head coach Johann van Graan commented: “Rhys seamlessly made the move from New Zealand and fully embraced the Munster culture, quickly establishing himself as a firm favourite within the squad, and he will be sorely missed around the High Performance Centre.
“We would like to thank Rhys for everything he has achieved in the red jersey and wish him all the best for the future.”
Munster’s departing players include Marshall, James Cronin, Nick McCarthy, JJ Hanrahan and Darren Sweetnam, who joined La Rochelle in March, while the trio of Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander are retiring from the game.