New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen says Kieran Read has enhanced the legacy of the All Blacks jersey in a "remarkable" career.
Steve Hansen saluted Kieran Read as "one of the greats of our game" after the New Zealand captain decided to end his international career following the Rugby World Cup.
The Crusaders number eight, who has played 118 Tests and skippered the All Blacks 43 times, will join Japanese club Toyota Verblitz next year.
It will be the end of an era for New Zealand rugby when the inspirational skipper departs after the World Cup in Japan along with head coach Hansen.
Hansen has paid tribute to Read, who will attempt to sign off at Test level by winning the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.
"On behalf of New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks, I'd like to acknowledge the fantastic contribution that Reado has made to our game," said Hansen.
"His performances on the park speak for themselves: he's played 118 Tests and started 111 of them, which is an outstanding achievement.
"However, that is only part of the Kieran Read story. His contribution off the park has been just as impressive. He's developed into a fantastic leader, who has the utmost respect of all his peers.
"What he has achieved has been remarkable, and it's fair to say that he is one of the greats of our game who has enhanced the legacy of not only the All Blacks jersey but also the Crusaders jersey."
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was also full of praise for 2013 World Rugby Player of the Year Read after it was announced he will be moving on.
Robertson said: "His contribution to the Crusaders over the past 145 games goes without saying, but it's Reado's influence as a member of our leadership group that will be a huge part of the legacy he leaves here.
"He still has a big role to play in the season ahead, and while we'll certainly miss Reado and his family here at Rugby Park come the end of our 2019 campaign, I know the boys will be determined to give him the send-off he deserves."