The Scarlets have confirmed that 30 year-old centre Regan King will leave the region at the end of his contract this summer after six seasons in Llanelli.
The once-capped All Black has been a valued member of the Scarlets squad for the past six years and more recently has played an important role in helping advance the development of the Scarlets own fast-emerging backs talent – including international centre Jon Davies this season’s star performer Gareth Maule.
King will join French champions and Top 14 giants Clermont Auvergne next season on a new three-year contract. He joined the Scarlets in May 2005.
Known for his superb handling skills, agility and finesse on the field, Regan King returned to form this season after being absent in the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons after picking up a career threatening hamstring injury in February 2009 which kept him off the field for a year.
Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies said: “Regan has been a great asset within our rugby set-up for many years now and as a player has skills and qualities which you just don’t find everywhere. He’s a true rugby talent and it’s been great to see him come back strongly this season.
“His contribution and experience as one of our senior players has been particularly significant in recent seasons – our backs have without doubt benefited from playing and training alongside him, appreciating the quality he brings to the game and learning from his great skills, timing and ability with the ball.
“Regan’s contract with us concluded this summer and he goes with our best wishes to France where at this stage in his career he’ll have some great opportunities. The French clubs are staking a major claim for some of the top players in Europe at this time and evidently have the budgets and resources to do so.
“We’re very grateful to Regan for his contribution over the past six seasons and wish him and his family well in France.”
King, who was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and has a British father, achieved his All Blacks cap against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in November 2002. He was previously with Stade Francais before leaving after six months to join the Scarlets in the 2005/2006 season. He has appeared 135 times for the region and scored 185 points. This season King has appeared 19 times and scored four tries.
Regan King said: “I’d like to thank everyone at the Scarlets, the coaching team, the players and all the supporters for a great six years. It’s been a massive honour to be part of this great club, with its history and spirit. My family has always been made to feel really at home here and we’ve enjoyed our time in Llanelli – we’ve made great friends and our children were born here so it will always be a special place for us.
“You’ve got to admire the work being done by the Scarlets to develop great new rugby players from within this region and from what I’ve seen, it will be a good thing for the Scarlets future.
“It’s been a tough decision to leave as I’ve got a real bond and affinity with the Scarlets and all the boys here as I’ve been here quite a while. They’re a really good bunch of players, it’s a great atmosphere in the group. It’s been a pleasure to train and play alongside them and see some of the younger guys coming through so well now and many of them getting international caps.
“At this stage in my career, the offer from France was one that was right for me and my family and I felt that it’s probably time to move on. I’m grateful to everyone associated with the Scarlets and I’ll go with great memories of both Stradey Park and Parc y Scarlets.”
The Scarlets have been working hard behind the scenes over the past three months to secure the services of a number of key players within their squad for next season and beyond and will make announcements on all the region’s contract extensions and signings in due course.
Nigel Davies added: “I am very comfortable with what we have achieved in terms of securing the talents of our core Scarlets players going forward. This group has progressed significantly over the past 18 months and we will continue our investment in developing Welsh talent from within our region – that is key to our philosophy and values and our future direction as a rugby business.
“We expect to make these announcements post Six Nations when our whole group is back together within our environment here at Parc y Scarlets.”