New Zealand
All Blacks back-rower Victor Vito confirms Top 14 move
February 2, 2016
© Phil Walter/Getty Images

Two-time World Cup winning loose forward Victor Vito admits it took him nearly four years to find the sort of form he wanted in an All Blacks jersey. And now that he has, Vito is ready to move on.

The 28-year-old has signed a three-year contract with French Top 14 club La Rochelle, leaving New Zealand rugby at the end of this year's Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes.

Vito has played 33 Tests for the All Blacks, making his Test debut against Ireland in 2010, and was a member of the World Cup winning squads in 2011 and 2015.

"The last couple of years, I've probably been more happy with my form," he said on Wednesday. "I've had a bit of a topsy-turvy ride with it, and probably wasn't ready until about 2014 mentally to get into the space that I needed."

Vito said he was lucky that Steve Hansen and the All Blacks coaches had persevered with him, allowing him to leave New Zealand rugby on his own terms.

"It's a tough old game over here in New Zealand, as it should be, because we've got the best team in the world. Getting dropped out of that team twice, I wouldn't change that for anything. It's taught me a lot about getting that mental edge, and seeing if I really wanted it."

Vito, who has played 60 matches for the Hurricanes in the past six years, said it had been a tough decision to leave New Zealand rugby and he'd put off making the call to Hansen for three or four weeks.

"He's always pretty keen to keep his talent in New Zealand, but as we know there's always someone waiting in the wings to make the next All Blacks jersey."

Vito has become one of the Hurricanes most influential leaders and consistent performers since making his debut against the Highlanders in 2009, and said he'd be giving everything to his final season with the club.

And while he's looking forward to new challenges at La Rochelle, in western France, Vito is also enough similarities with Wellington for him to feel at home.

"They're very typical of the French style, and I've seen some tries from a couple of seasons back with Sireli Bobo going the length of the field - another Hurricanes old boy.

"The city itself looks quite similar to Wellington, and they play in black and yellow, so I won't be changing strip."


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