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All Blacks icon set to exit New Zealand rugby - reports

By Ian Cameron
Sam Whitelock, Ardie Savea and Sam Cane approach a line-out for the All Blacks. Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images

Sam Whitelock, the most capped All Blacks lock of all time, is set to leave New Zealand rugby after the Rugby World Cup in order to join French side Pau.


According to local media in France, the deal is all but done, with Whitelock following in the footsteps of his brother Luke, who currently plays for the Top 14 team.

The 34-year-old is understood to have been inundated with offers from France and Japan but the option to join his brother proved too alluring to the Test centurion. He currently sits on 143 caps, and could potentially match Richie McCaw’s 148 cap record later this year.

Whitelock first captained the All Blacks against Wales in Cardiff in 2017 and also stood in for Kieran Read in the 2018 Steinlager Series. He has played in all seven All Blacks matches at the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and 2015.

Born in Manawatu, Whitelock moved to Canterbury to study at Lincoln University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science. He made his provincial debut for Canterbury in 2008 and his Investec Super Rugby debut in 2010, scoring two tries on debut. He has played more than 130 Crusaders matches and became a Super Rugby centurion in 2016 against the Rebels in Christchurch. He led the Crusaders to back-to-back Investec Super Rugby titles in 2017 and 2018.

Whitelock comes from a rugby family, with his grandfather Nelson Dalzell, great-uncle Allan Elsom and brothers George and Luke having also played for the All Blacks. His brother Adam played for the All Blacks Sevens and his father Braeden played for Manawatu.

As a younger player, Whitelock locked for New Zealand Schools in 2005 and 2006, New Zealand Under 19 in 2007 and was part of the 2008 New Zealand Under 20 side that claimed the inaugural Junior World Championship.



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