Sam Whitelock, the most capped player in All Blacks history, will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season with his club Pau in France, the 35-year-old lock said on Tuesday.

Whitelock played 153 test matches since his international debut in 2010 and was part of the All Blacks sides that won the World Cup in 2011 and 2015.

“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 in a statement shared by New Zealand Rugby.

“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.”

Whitelock started his senior career at Canterbury in 2008 and played for the Crusaders in Super Rugby from 2010, helping the franchise win the championship five times before joining Pau in 2023.

“Sam is an immortal of our incredible game,” New Zealand head coach Scott Robertson said.

“Sam’s impact has been immense both mentally and physically over four World Cup cycles. He is a winner who rose to any occasion.”

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