MIKE DELANY has left Newcastle Falcons to return to his native New Zealand and sign for provincial side Bay of Plenty.

The 35-year-old fly-half made 26 Aviva Premiership appearances during his two years as a Falcons player, having moved to the North-East from French side Clermont.

Delany said: “My family and I had thought long and hard about when would be the right time to come back to New Zealand and when this opportunity came up with Bay of Plenty rugby, it just felt like something we couldn't pass up.

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“We were fortunate enough that the Newcastle Falcons granted me early release, so after six seasons or so overseas I'm excited and motivated to return to play for the Bay. It is where I started and it is home for us.”

Falcons director of rugby, Dean Richards, added: “We as a club would like to thank Mike for all of his efforts during his time with Newcastle, and wish him and his family all the best for their return to New Zealand.”