Justin Marshall (left) signed with Montpellier on Tuesday evening
Ex-All Blacks scrum-half Justin Marshall has signed for Montpellier after a shock exit from the Ospreys.
The French club have confirmed the 34-year-old New Zealander has signed a one-year deal with a one-year option.
The Ospreys said the move had come as no surprise as Marshall faced intense competition from Mike Phillips for the region's scrum-half position.
The Welsh region are expected to target another scrum-half within a month, with Warren Fury a possible option.
The London Irish number nine won two caps as a replacement on Wales' summer tour of South Africa, although the Ospreys could also look for an overseas recruit.
Meanwhile Marshall said he had enjoyed his time at the Ospreys.
"In many ways I will be sorry to leave, however, I believe that the time is right to move on," he added.
"Justin is exactly what we were looking for," said Montpellier coach Didier Nourault.
At Leeds Tykes until April 2006
Believed to earn close to £200,000 a year with Ospreys
"He's a player of a very high standard with a lot of experience. He should bring plenty to the team and allow our young number nines, Julien and Adrien Tomas, to make progress."
Marshall's Ospreys future was thrown into doubt last year when the region recruited Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips in a big-money deal.
But the Kiwi also extended his contract and seemed motivated by the rivalry with Phillips, helping his side to reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and to win the EDF Energy Cup in 2007-8.
Marshall had dismissed reports of a permanent return to New Zealand for the start of this season, saying he had considered a temporary move to Canterbury that would see him return to Wales after the New Zealand National Provincial Championship.
The Ospreys acknowledged the "intense" competition at number nine as a factor in Marshall's departure.
"Set against this backdrop, it comes as no surprise, that the Ospreys agreed with Marshall to examine the opportunity for an early release and jointly identify a suitable team in Europe as the target for the transfer," said a statement from the region.
With Mike Phillips recovering from a serious knee injury and not expected back until the end of September and Martin Roberts joining the Scarlets, youngster Rhys Webb is the only fit scrum-half on the Ospreys' books.
Wales wing Shane Williams also offers cover in the position, but a lengthy stay at number nine is unlikely to find favour with player, country or region.
The Ospreys' Elite Performance Director Andrew Hore said the focus would now be on developing Phillips and Webb.
"We are not discounting additional support at scrum-half in the future if it is required but, should this be the case, it would almost certainly be in a role to assist with the development of both Mike Phillips and Rhys Webb as well as providing playing support, primarily in the Magners League," Hore added.