Top 14
Jackson Willison leaving Blues for Grenoble
ESPN Staff
January 20, 2014
Jackson Willison of the Blues is tackled by Duane Vermeulen of the Stormers, Super Rugby, Round 12, Blues v Stormers, North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, May 3, 2013
Jackson Willison is moving in order to "set himself up" © Getty Images
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Jackson Willison is leaving New Zealand rugby after the Super Rugby season, the Waikato, Blues and Maori All Blacks centre signing a two-year deal with Top 14 club Grenoble. He will join All Blacks Sevens Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Nigel Hunt and former Wallabies forwards Peter Kimlin and Dan Palmer at the foot of the French Alps.

Willison said the contract was "not a huge amount but we can definitely feel safe and come back and set ourselves up". He said he could have earned more money in the Top League but he "wasn't looking to head to Japan and just get the financial benefit".

"I want to keep playing decent rugby, and Grenoble have given me that opportunity," he told the Sunday Star-Times in New Zealand.

Willison said that New Zealand Rugby could not have done any more to retain him, indicating the challenge faced by union officials who value the experience and mentoring ability of their second-tier players below All Blacks levels but who cannot match the salaries available in Europe.

"It will be a continued trend in the next couple of months, if not the next two years," Willison told the Sunday Star-Times. "We may see a few more players heading overseas with the World Cup looming. People will leave the country for their own reasons. Some of them are identical.

"I'm not the first player and won't be the last. It was exciting for both my partner and myself when we sat down and looked at the deal. We're both looking forward to doing a bit of travel. It was quite an easy decision in the end. My time in New Zealand is nearly up."

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