Ultan Dillane will depart Connacht when his contract runs out at the end of the season.
Connacht announced on Tuesday that the Ireland international told teammates and backroom staff that he has signed for an as yet unnamed overseas club. Dillane has been linked with a move to the Ronan O'Gara-coached La Rochelle in recent days.
"This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but ultimately I feel that the time has come for me to experience a new challenge in my career," said the Kerryman.
"I am forever grateful to all the coaches and wider staff at Connacht I’ve worked with these past 10 years. You have all helped make my dream of becoming a professional and international rugby player a reality. I’ve also been fortunate to play alongside some incredible players both for Connacht and Ireland, and I have made some friends for life.
"The Connacht supporters are among the best in the world and I’d like to thank them for all the support they’ve given me too. The West of Ireland will always be a special place to me.
"I will be giving absolutely everything to finish my time in Connacht on a high, and help all of us to go on to have a really successful season. This is a team on the up and I’ll forever be a Connacht Rugby supporter."
Connacht head coach Andy Friend praised the second row, who has 19 caps for Ireland, for his conduct regarding the move.
"Ultan has been a key part of Connacht Rugby right from his initial entry into our Academy almost 10 years ago and will remain a key figure for us until he finishes up at the end of this season," said Friend.
"This has not been an easy decision for Ultan however he has been completely open, honest and respectful in how he has engaged with the club on this matter.
"Whilst it is disappointing for us that Ultan is moving on, we wish him all very best for the future and the next stage of his career. Thankfully, we are very fortunate at Connacht Rugby to have real strength and depth at lock and I look forward to seeing some of our other squad members step up into Ultan’s boots and go on to achieve National honours just like he has."
Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile