Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Ulster star John Afoa planning for future as he visits family

Main motivator: John Afoa is heading back to New Zealand

John Afoa, Ulster's World Cup-winning former All Blacks tight-head, once more will be heading home to New Zealand after the final whistle in the province's PRO12 clash with the Scarlets in Llanelli on November 2.

"I'm planning to go home to see my wife and we'll have a chat and decide what I plan to do over the next few years," he said.

"I had my 30th birthday last week and I'm on the home straight career wise now. It is a life decision and there is a lot of planning behind it. I've maybe got two or three contracts left so I have to make sure everything is lined up."

The big prop's Ulster contract finishes six months hence in May and he revealed that he will use the break for the forthcoming autumn internationals to discuss his future with them. The smart money is on him not remaining in Belfast, with a return to his native land thought likely.

Referring to the fact that fellow-overseas players have signed contract extensions in recent weeks – Ruan Pienaar for three years, Nick Williams for two – Afoa said: "I've seen the other guys sign up, so it's important I sort out my own future soon."

Back in February, former All Blacks wing John Kirwan – now coach of the Blues in Afoa's native Auckland – said they would be keen to talk to the prop if he was planning a return home.

"This is his home, (he has played) over 100 games, he's one of our guys. If he wants to come home we'd love to talk to him," Kirwan said at the time.

The biggest factor in Afoa's decision-making will be the situation regarding his family.

The 36-times-capped New Zealander's wife Theresa and their three children – son Mateo and daughters Chloe and Violet, all under five – are living in New Zealand.

"Family is the big one – that's the main motivator," Afoa said.

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