Both Retallick and Sale boss Steve Diamond have quashed reports of a £1m-per-season deal to make the 27-year-old one of the highest-paid players in the world.
Diamond told RugbyPass that they have made no contact with Retallick or his agent, while the player himself posted on social media: “No one thought to ask but no I’m not going to be playing for Sale … not that I know off [sic] anyway”.
The respective statements have kept other prospective sides in the running to acquire Retallick after the World Cup, with Japanese club Kobelco Kobe Steelers emerging as likely candidates to secure the services of the 75-test second rower, according to a report from The New Zealand Herald.
The report states that Kobelco are “leading negotiations” for Retallick’s signature in what could a year-long sabbatical away from the game in New Zealand to make the most of a lucrative double season in Japan next year.
With Retallick being co-captain of the Chiefs, Kobelco’s strong connections with the Hamilton-based franchise are understood to be significant in luring the 2014 World Player of the Year to Japan.
The duo are accompanied by other experienced Kiwis, such as three-time World Player of the Year Dan Carter and former 28-Test All Black half-back Andy Ellis.
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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
They are joined by a raft of other international talent, such as Richard Buckman, Tom Franklin and Grant Hattingh, while Adam Ashley-Cooper was part of the squad before joining the Waratahs for the upcoming Super Rugby campaign.
Kobelco romped to their second Top League title in December last year, thrashing Suntory Sungoliath 55-5 in Tokyo.
Retallick is not the only All Black linked with a move to the Top League, with skipper Kieran Read, midfielder Ryan Crotty and half-back Aaron Smith among those touted to shift to the Japanese club scene after the World Cup this year.
Rugby World Cup city guide – Kumamoto:
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