Sam Whitelock to retire at end of 2023/24 season

Sam Whitelock has played 153 Tests for New Zealand
Sam Whitelock has played 153 Tests for New Zealand

All Blacks great Sam Whitelock has announced that he will be retiring from professional rugby at the end of the ongoing 2023/24 season.

Whitelock will be stepping down at the end of ongoing Top 14 season where he represents Pau.

The 35-year-old started his professional rugby with Canterbury in 2008 and made his Super Rugby debut with Crusaders in 2010. He helped the club win the title five times and moved to Pau in 2023.

He made his New Zealand debut in 2010 and has racked up 153 Test appearances for the club making him the second most capped player in World Rugby history after former Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, who has 170 Test caps.

Whitelock also represented New Zealand in four World Cups while going on to win the title on two occasions 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.

“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.”