The Free State Cheetahs will be without one of their star forwards when the Currie Cup competition gets underway in August.
Loose forward Philip van der Walt has been granted an early release from his contract to join up with French club Biarritz, who were recently relegated to the Pro D2, Second Division.
The 24-year-old will head to France after the completion of the Super Rugby season in July.
"Free State have a great appreciation for the great contribution Philip van der Walt has made to the Cheetahs and Free State teams through his loyal and committed play," the Free State Rugby Union said
His agent, Jan-Harm van Wyk, said the loose forward was "very happy" at the Cheetahs.
"This is purely a career decision," Van Wyk said, adding: "We believe this is in the best interest of the player."
The FSRU said he will be missed once he heads abroad.