Sam Whitelock is hanging up his boots

Sam Whitelock retires as the most-capped All Black and he will hang up his boots at the end of the Top 14 season.

Whitelock, who plays for Pau, won 153 caps for his country and won two Rugby World Cups.

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The star overtook Richie McCaw as the most-capped player for the international team at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. New Zealand were runners-up at the tournament.

“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,” the lock said via New Zealand Rugby. “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.”

He also revealed what has brought him the most pride in the All Blacks jersey.

“The thing I’m proud of is that I never really counted Test matches – I always wanted to make the Test matches count,” said Whitelock. “So if it was my last one, I wanted to be able to walk away and say ‘I gave it everything, I didn’t hold anything back.’ I was fully committed.”

Sam Whitelock retires: What have coaches said?

New head coach Scott Robertson, who Whitelock has not played under, had high praise for the player.

“Sam is an immortal of our incredible game,” he said. “First and foremost, he is a quality person. A great husband and father who has a special ability to build deep connections with people from all walks of life.

“In terms of his rugby, Sam’s impact has been immense both mentally and physically over four World Cup cycles. He is a winner who rose to any occasion as his competitive spirit drove him to the highest level of performance. Sam will stand with the greats of our game.”

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