Soane Tonga’uiha has ended speculations about his future by confirming he will be linking up with Top 14 side Racing Metro next season.
Rumours about his move started back in November and it has also been announced that he will follow Brian Mujati across The Channel.
Tonga’uiha, 31, leaves Franklin’s Gardens after seven years making over 200 appearances including the 2009 Amlin Challenge Cup and 2010 LV= Cup triumphs as well as the 2011 Heineken Cup final.
He said: “My seven years at Northampton have been very happy ones. I have been with the club through relegation to promotion to the Heineken Cup final and it is a journey that has made Saints a part of me.
“Northampton is a fantastic club, with excellent coaches, management, staff and facilities. I am surrounded by a great bunch of talented lads who I believe with the addition of incoming players (not to mention the huge talent within the Academy) will go on to win plenty of silverware.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me during my seven years here. In particular, my family and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness and support we have been shown by the people of Northampton during my Testimonial year.
“This generosity has enabled me to donate £20,000 to charitable causes as well as to ship a 40ft container filled with donations to my old school, Vaini Primary in Tonga. This would not have been possible without the help of my dedicated testimonial committee led by Jon Evans and Darren Briers, and also the faithful fans of Northampton Saints.
“Finally, this is not a goodbye for the time being as there is still plenty to play for. Saints are back in the top four and this season is far from over. I hope to leave this club in a high and I still believe we have a team that can go all the way.”
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder said that Franklin’s Gardens will be a different place without Tonga’uiha in the Saints squad.
“Soane has been a big part of the squad throughout my time at the Saints,” he said. “He has shown consistency and durability in one of the toughest positions on the field and will go down as one of the best props to play for the club, not least with 200-plus appearances under his belt.
“Soane is moving on as an individual and we will move on as a club, and now that the speculation regarding his future is over we can all put our focus on ending the season in style and getting into the Aviva Premiership play-offs.
“We wish Soane, Lucy and the rest of the Tonga’uiha family all the very best for the future.”