Tasman winger James Lowe is heading to Ireland following this year's NPC.
The Tasman Rugby Union has expressed disappointment while remaining philosophical about star winger James Lowe's recent signing with Irish club Leinster.
The 24-year-old Tasman Makos and Chiefs winger Lowe has announced that he will leave New Zealand at the end of this year after signing a three-year contract with the Irish club.
However, Tasman chief executive Tony Lewis said that the union had known about Lowe's imminent departure "for quite some time" after he'd approached them earlier this year and "had a good chat" with Tasman head coach Leon MacDonald.
"I suppose from our perspective, our job is to grow players to the next level, and that's James' next level, he wants to try his hand there," Lewis said.
"We're disappointed to see what we thought was going to be our first born and bred All Black from the region go. We'd ear-marked him to be that person, you know Nelson College born and bred who goes on to play for the Makos. So that's a disappointment for us but James signed a three-year contract and after three years he might be back."
Tasman No 8 Liam Squire was selected for the All Blacks last season but originally hails from Palmerston North.
Lowe admitted that not getting an All Blacks call-up has played its part in his decision to head overseas.
"For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an All Black, but at this stage of my life and for my future, I feel this is the best decision for me," Lowe said in a statement.
It's not all bad news for Tasman rugby fans though, with Lowe still available to play for Tasman in this year's national provincial competition.
"On a positive note, James has been a great fellow to have around, a great Mako, superb in the community and he'll be sorely missed," Lewis said. "But we've got 2017 to enjoy his delights and hopefully bring his Super [Rugby] form back to us without any injuries and we'll win a competition."
Lowe has played 35 games for Tasman since making his debut in 2012. He has also played for New Zealand Schools and is a New Zealand Maori representative.
Lewis said that there was a firm succession plan in place regarding Tasman's threequarter depth, with brothers Tima and Leicester Fainga'anuku, new signing Will Jordan and academy player Jamie Spowat all in the development mix. The Fainga'anuku's are both also Nelson College products with Tima having made his Tasman debut last season.