All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu plans to switch to the Highlanders for the 2013 Super Rugby season, ending his one-year stint with the Blues.
Nonu cited family reasons for the move, quashing speculation the 30-year-old would wind down his career with a lucrative move to Japan in the wake of last year's Rugby World Cup victory.
"It's got nothing to do with the Blues, it is a decision I have made for myself and my family," the 71-Test veteran told reporters, adding that details of the contract had to be finalised before he signed.
Blues coach John Kirwan said he was disappointed with Nonu's decision, believing he had a handshake deal with the powerhouse midfielder to remain in Auckland.
"I am obviously disappointed," Kirwan said.
"The lateness in the decision has really put us in a difficult situation, but we are going to have a young, exciting young team and we'll move on."
Nonu is the second high-profile Blues player to move to the Highlanders during the off-season, with prop Tony Woodcock also defecting after a disappointing season in which the Auckland-based franchise finished 12th on the Super Rugby ladder.
He will join other All Blacks team-mates such as Andrew Hore, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Hosea Gear in Dunedin.
Former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn is also in the process of signing with the team that is coached by former Hurricanes coach Jamie Joseph.