Crusaders and All Black lock, Sam Whitelock has extended his contract with New Zealand Rugby for another four years.
This means that the big lock will be available for the Kiwis until 2023.
It obviously came as good news for New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew.
“This is a major re-signing for us and we’re absolutely delighted that Sam has chosen to sign a four-year deal. He’s a world-class player, an All Blacks Centurion, the most capped All Blacks lock of all time and he carries immense mana,” said Tew.
“His recommitment alongside a number of other key players gives us a strong foundation for the next four years. I know the news will be welcomed by fans here in New Zealand and around the world.
Also part of his new contract is the fact that he will play Top 14 rugby in Japan after the World Cup.
He will do this only for six months, meaning that he will miss the Super Rugby tournament in 2020.
He will return to New Zealand in May 2020, making him available for All Black selection.
“We know our players have a number of choices to make when it comes to where they play their rugby and we have to be flexible when it comes to renegotiating with our leading players, and that’s what we have done with Sam,” said Tew.
“He’ll have a short break away with his young family and experience a different culture, before returning to New Zealand. We think having a short playing stint in Japan as part of a long-term, four-year commitment is a win-win for him and us.”
The 30-year-old Whitelock thanked New Zealand Rugby for the flexibility of his contract.
“I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby, the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby for their support of myself and my family in making this decision, and I’m really proud to commit to these teams for the next four years,” said Whitelock.
“Ultimately, this decision allows me to take some time with my family to experience a new rugby environment in Japan, before coming back refreshed and ready for the remainder of 2020 and beyond. I’m pleased there is clarity around my playing future, so I can focus on the remainder of this 2019 season with the Crusaders.”
Whitelock has played in 108 tests and 136 Super Rugby games.
Written by Carl Coertzen
Image: Stuff NZ