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Brodie Retallick has agreed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby, which includes a two year sabbatical to allow him to play with a Japanese club.
The new contract will see Retallick play with the All Blacks until the 2023 World Cup in France but he will take a break after this year's World Cup to play in Japan's Top League before returning to New Zealand in May 2021.
A number of senior players are due to depart New Zealand following this year's World Cup in Japan but Retallick's new contract ensures he will be available for the All Blacks until the end of 2023. However, he will not be available for selection while he is in Japan.
“It has been a big decision to make, but I’m grateful to be able to have the opportunity to head over to Japan and experience not just the rugby but for my family and to be immersed in another culture," Retallick said.
“I’ve been playing high-octane rugby with the Gallagher Chiefs and All Blacks since 2012, and while I’ve loved every minute of it and my workload has been managed well, I’ve decided to give my body a break from the New Zealand game, so that ultimately I can extend my career here.
“I’m lucky enough to work with a great group of people in both the Chiefs and All Blacks – they’re two teams I love to play for – so I look forward to returning in 2021.”
A Rugby World Cup winner in 2015, Retallick was named World Player of the Year in 2014 and has represented the All Blacks in 75 Tests.
“Having Brodie commit through to the next Rugby World Cup in 2023 is fantastic news for him, his wife Niki and their family, along with New Zealand Rugby," head coach Steve Hansen commented.
“Whilst there’s a playing sabbatical during that time - and Brodie will no doubt be missed - it also gives the future All Blacks coaches the opportunity to build even more depth in that position.
“I congratulate NZR on being inventive in their contracting process, as there would have been many offers for him to leave permanently.
“Brodie is one of the best locks to ever play the game, if not the best, and has given his all for the All Blacks jersey year in year out. Under this arrangement he’ll extend his career in New Zealand, which is great for everyone.”
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Image: Inpho Photography/Billy Stickland