All Blacks legend Sam Whitelock to retire at end of season

All Blacks legend Sam Whitelock has announced he will retire at the end of the season, finishing his career at French Top 14 side Pau.

Whitelock is the most capped player in New Zealand history with 153 caps over 13 years. He played 180 games for the Crusaders, where he won seven Super Rugby titles.

He was also the youngest All Black to play 100 tests and the quickest to reach the milestone.

A glittering international career saw him win two Rugby World Cups in 2011 and 2015, 11 Rugby Championship titles and 14 Bledisloe Cups. He also played against the British and Irish Lions in the 2017 series which ended in a draw.

He helped New Zealand to the World Cup final in France, where they lost to the Springboks, and has now decided this season with Pau will be his last.

“I’ve been having a few conversations with my wife Hannah and the kids around what the future looks like for us. And it’s time to finish the playing chapter of rugby,” Whitelock said.

“I think if you talk to anyone who has played for a long time, that desire [to compete] never leaves, it’s just that stage of life when you move on.

“It’s not a decision that we have come to lightly, but it’s the right thing for myself and it’s the right thing for my wife and our three kids – Fred, Iris and Penelope.

“And I think that is what excites me the most — spending more time with my kids and my wife, and actually watching them play sport. Being able to go to the cross-country at school and those things.

“It’s hard to thank everyone, but obviously Hannah has been a massive part along with my parents, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents. And also the fans in general, they’ve been so receptive of myself and also the way I play.

“I’m very appreciative of the support I’ve had and there is no way I could have achieved the things I’ve had without them.”

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