Scott MacLeod is to leave Edinburgh Rugby Club at the end of the season.
The 32-year-old lock forward has opted not to take up the club’s offer of a contract extension and will join Japanese side Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers when his current deal expires.
The 24-cap Hawick-born second row, who joined Edinburgh in January 2009, today thanked the capital outfit for providing what he calls “a fantastic chapter in my career”.
Four months after MacLeod’s arrival, Edinburgh finished second in the Magners League, their best ever placing. The following year, they went on to win all their home Heineken Cup pool games for the first time, with the one-time Border Reivers and Scarlets player once more to the fore.
MacLeod enthused: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my two and a bit years with Edinburgh, and I’ll take away a lot of happy memories of things we’ve achieved on the field, and of the people that I’ve encountered.
“There’s a great camaraderie at the club, and it’s a wonderful feeling to play and work beside guys that are friends as well as colleagues.
“I’d like to thank my teammates, and the Edinburgh coaches and staff, for all the support they’ve given me and I look forward to staying in touch with them when I leave the club.
“It’s been a very difficult decision to make, because Edinburgh are close to my heart and I’ve a lot of affection for the club, but the opportunity to go to Japan is exciting not just for me, but for my family. From a lifestyle and learning perspective, this will be great for us all.
"After the recent tragic events in Japan, I've been in regular contact with the Steelers, because clearly I would never do anything to expose my family to risk. I have a huge amount of sympathy for those who've suffered terrible losses, but I've been given the appropriate reassurances and as a family we're entirely comfortable about going out there.
“My focus remains on helping Edinburgh finish the Magners League regular season strongly, after which I will be throwing myself into this new challenge.”
MacLeod’s desire to immerse himself in his new club and environment has led him to make himself unavailable for Scotland selection at present.
He continued: “I’ve massive respect for the national team and for [Scotland head coach] Andy Robinson. He’s the guy who [as Edinburgh head coach] brought me back up here in 2009, and I thoroughly enjoy playing for him.
“He knows the massive pride I take in representing my country, but I’ve explained to him that I want to focus my energies on making a success of the move to the Steelers and he understands my position.”
Robinson confirmed: “Scott is a talented and committed rugby player who I’ve enjoyed working with at Edinburgh and with Scotland.
“He’s a very honest person, and he’s sat down with me to detail his reasons for making himself unavailable for selection. I respect his decision and will be happy to talk to him if that situation changes.”
Edinburgh chief executive Craig Docherty said: “We’re clearly disappointed that Scott has decided to head for pastures new and not join the likes of Tim Visser, Ross Ford, Tom Brown and Lee Jones in signing a contract extension, but I’d like to put on record the club’s appreciation for the level of performance and application he’s consistently delivered.”