All Blacks star Sam Whitelock to retire from professional rugby at end of season

Sam Whitelock has played 153 times for the All Blacks
Sam Whitelock has played 153 times for the All Blacks

New Zealand's most-capped player Sam Whitelock has announced that he will be retiring from professional rugby at the end of the ongoing season.

The 35-year-old is one of the 43 players to have won a dual Rugby World Cup when the All Blacks clinched the titles in the 2011 and 2015 editions. He also represented them in the 2019 and 2023 World Cup with his last appearance coming in the final against South Africa which the All Blacks lost by a 11-12 margin.

Following the World Cup, he moved to France playing for Pau.

He has overall played in 153 Tests which is the most for a New Zealand player and only second in the list of most capped players in the world behind former Wales international Alun Wyn Jones. He also holds the record for the most World Cup games played with a tally of 26.

"It's time to finish the playing chapter of rugby," Whitelock said in an All Blacks statement.

"I've been having a few conversations with my wife Hannah and the kids around what the future looks like for us.

"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."