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Former cross-code All Black announces retirement from professional rugby

By Alex McLeod
(PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP via Getty Images)

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Former dual-code New Zealand representative Matt Duffie has announced his retirement from professional rugby at the age of 31.

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In a social media post published on Saturday, Duffie confirmed he is hanging up the boots after a cross-code career that spanned more than a decade and saw him play for the All Blacks in rugby union and the Kiwis in rugby league.

“The time has come to hang up the boots and I am so happy to be doing it on my terms,” Duffie wrote on Instagram a day after his Mie Honda Heat side lost their Japan Rugby League One promotion-relegation playoff series against the NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu.

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“Though its [sic] been a tough decision to come to, I really feel excited about starting the next chapter and I will not miss limping around for 20 mins each morning, let alone the pain after a hard session or game.

“I was truely [sic] blessed to share the locker room with some of the greats of both codes, encounters many only dream of, its [sic] not lost how fortunate I was for those experiences.

“I want to thank all my teammates that I have had throughout my time, its truely [sic] a connection that lasts a lifetime, looking forward to a beer and a yarn when our paths cross.

“Thank you to all the coaches I have had, I have learnt something from everyone that has ever coached me, good or bad, coaches promote growth and I am the person I am today with those experiences.

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“To the fans, the beating heart of Sport, thank you for always supporting me. I hope I have made you proud. I also hope you had a good laugh whenever I got bumped off.

“To the teams I represented@storm, @nzrugbyleague, @bluesrugbyteam , @harbourrugby, @allblacks, @barbarians_fc, @hondaheat_official. Thank you, it was an honour.”

After moving to rugby union from rugby league ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season, Duffie spent five seasons with the Blues, making 54 appearances and scoring 11 tries for the Auckland-based franchise.

During that time, the former outside back also spent four seasons with North Harbour, where he won the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup Championship and scored 22 tries from 39 matches.

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Duffie’s form for the Blues and North Harbour earned him an All Blacks call-up for their 2017 end-of-year tour, where he played in two non-tests against the Barbarians at Twickenham and a French XV in Lyon.

 

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A post shared by Matthew Duffie (@mattduffie)

He scored his solitary All Blacks try in New Zealand’s 28-23 win over the French XV at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

By playing for the All Blacks, Duffie became the 37th person to represent New Zealand in both rugby union and rugby league, having played – and scored in – his one and only test for the Kiwis in the 2011 Anzac Test against the Kangaroos.

Duffie is also one of only three people, alongside Karl Ifwersen and Sonny Bill Williams, to have represented New Zealand in rugby league before doing so in rugby union.

As a rugby league player, Duffie joined the Melbourne Storm on a scholarship at the end of 2008, and was part of the club’s NRL U20 title-winning side in 2009.

The following year, he made his NRL debut for the Storm, where he spent an injury-plagued six seasons before his departure to the Blues.

A member of the Storm’s Premiership-winning side in 2012, Duffie missed that year’s grand final after undergoing shoulder surgery for a second time in as many years.

A third shoulder injury and two torn ACLs limited Duffie’s output to just four matches between 2013 and 2014, but he still managed to make 62 appearances and scored 150 points for the Storm between 2010 and 2015.

After leaving the Blues for Japan after the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, Duffie closed out his career by making 18 appearances and scoring four tries for Honda.

Duffie added in his social media post that he will now relocate back to Melbourne with his wife and two children.

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