Former Chiefs wing Bryce Heem to quit Toulon to return home for 'family reasons'

Former New Zealand Sevens international Bryce Heem is quitting glamour French club Toulon to return home to New Zealand for “major family reasons’’.

The 32-year-old former Chiefs wing was a try-scorer in Toulon’s 35-13 home win over Stade Francais on Sunday (Monday NZ time), but the club later announced he would play his last game against Brive next weekend.

A statement from the club stated Heem was returning to New Zealand, and the Rugby Rama website reported that he was leaving for “major family reasons’’.

“Human and family values ​​are essential in the Rugby Club Toulonnais project, the RC Toulon statement said. “So the decision to release Bryce Heem from his contract became obvious. President Bernard Lemaitre thanked Bryce ‘for his attachment to the club and his human qualities’.

Toulon head coach Patrice Collazo saluted Heem for his “great rugby qualities’’ and said he was “very appreciated in the locker room’’ and had been “able to unite by his skills but also and especially by his impeccable state of mind".

Auckland-born Heem first made his mark on the sevens circuit, representing New Zealand between 2011 and 2014.

He won a sevens silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Heem played his early NPC rugby for Auckland and Northland, but his skills blossomed at the Tasman Mako, earning him a Chiefs contract in 2015.

The 1.93m wing scored four tries in 16 games for the Chiefs, but left at the end of the season to take up a contract in England with the Worcester Warriors.

Heem became a crowd hero at Sixways, scoring 32 tries in 70 games before Toulon swooped to sign him in 2019.

Bryce is a fantastic player," Worcester director of rugby Alan Solomons said just before the Kiwi departed.

"He is a very valuable player, there's no doubt about that. He has made a great contribution here so it's understandable [that fans want him to stay].’’

Heem also made an impression at Toulon, scoring six tries in 25 games at a club with a star-studded roster, including France test captain Charles Ollivon, Springboks World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth and ex-All Blacks Ma’a Nonu and Isaia Toeava.