Will he stay or will he go?
That has been the question surrounding Brodie Retallick’s future as the All Blacks’ post-World Cup exodus begins to ramp up.
There have been a raft of New Zealand internationals signing deals with offshore clubs from 2020 onwards, with Kieran Read (Toyota Verblitz), Ben Smith (Pau), Owen Franks (Northampton), Liam Squire (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Waisake Naholo (London Irish), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Toulon), Jackson Hemopo (Mitsubishi Dynaboars), Luke Whitelock (Pau), Jordan Taufua (Leicester Tigers), Matt Proctor (Northampton) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (Wasps) all securing their futures in Europe or Japan after this year’s World Cup.
Rumours have been circulating of Retallick joining them, with the 75-test veteran yet to commit to either New Zealand Rugby or an overseas team with just eight months left on his existing contract with NZR.
The 27-year-old lock was linked with a switch to Premiership side Sale Sharks earlier this year, but shot down speculation of such a move on social media, posting: “No one thought to ask but no I’m not going to be playing for Sale … Not that I know off [sic] anyway.”
Since then, murmurings have arisen of reigning Japanese Top League champions Kobe Steelers chasing his signature in a move which would see him link up with former World Cup-winning All Blacks teammate Dan Carter.
That transfer could come in the form of a sabbatical move as leading All Blacks look to cash in on the Top League’s ‘double season’, when two seasons will be held within one year in 2020 as a result of a clash in scheduling with the World Cup in Japan.
View this post on Instagram
Rumours of a Sale deal have been quashed by the man himself @brodie_retallick, but further reports suggest Japanese Top League champs Kobe Steelers are negotiating a Sabbatical deal with the All Black. #GuzzlerSan #Japan #topleague #JapanTopLeague #kobelcosteelers #japanrugby #superrugby #nzrugby #chiefsrugby #allblacks #kobelco
However, following the Chiefs’ emphatic 56-20 win over the Bulls in Pretoria over the weekend, Retallick suggested his future lay with the All Blacks.
Speaking to Sport24, the 2014 World Player of the Year said he felt he had more to offer to the All Blacks as he approaches his second World Cup campaign.
“In terms of my post-World Cup future, I’m not too sure yet and I’m still sort of working through that,” he said.
“At the conclusion of the World Cup, I will be 28-years-old and I would like to think that I still have something to offer the All Black jersey, but I have to work it [my future] out and see how it looks.
“I have been a part of the All Blacks for a while now and it’s been great. It was always a big goal of mine to make the All Blacks, and with the World Cup being at the back end of the year in Japan, it’s pretty big.”
While maintaining that his sole focus for the time being is with the Chiefs – whose win in South Africa was their first of the year after a five-match winless run to open their campaign – Retallick was mindful of the excessive loss of talent and experience the All Blacks were set to concede at the end of the year.
The departure of captain Kieran Read was a particularly significant blow, but Retallick was confident that the All Blacks would be able to find a sufficient replacement.
“Kieran has been around for a long time and is certainly both a great player and leader, so there is definitely going to be a void there,” he said.
“But what New Zealand rugby prides itself on is that when someone steps away, it’s an opportunity for someone else to fill the void and stamp their mark on the black jersey.
“I’m sure that there are some young boys already wanting to step into the jersey when Kieran and a few others opt to go post-World Cup.”
Watch: Raelene Castle on Sunwolves axing:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.