Toulouse lock Joe Tekori has announced his international retirement only weeks before the start of the World Cup in Japan in September.
The giant Samoan earned 37 caps for his country since making his debut in 2007.
However, with the latest finals just two months away from starting, the forward has announced on Instagram that “my time has come” and that it is now time to “focus my rugby career on the club I am playing for now”.
At the age of 35, this was surely going to be the 20-stone lock’s international swansong, but he has instead decided to remain in France.
He is one of a number of players from tier two nations that have opted to miss the World Cup this year in order to stay in France. This was his post:
View this post on Instagram
Today i would like to announce my ending of my International Rugby Career. It was not an easy decision to make but i am blessed and greatful to have been able to put on the blue jersey and play to represent my beautiful Country Samoa. My time has come and to now focus my rugby career on the club i am playing for now. Starting my first Samoa selection 2003 and ending my last game in 2018 My 3 rugby world cup tours to my last game playing for the Manu Samoa last year against Germany for the qualification for the Worldcup 2019. Would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me especially to my Wife and kids for holding it down while i was away for weeks even months and to my family back in Nz and in Samoa Nothing is impossible without the love and support from them. Faafetai tele lava mo tapuaiga ma fautuaga. I also Want to wish the Manu Samoa boys all the best for their preparations for the RUGBY WORLDCUP and for the following years to come. Thank you Samoa Rugby it has been an honour?? Faafetai tele lava Joe Tekori
Given the lucrative deals that players have in the Top 14, it is much more financially rewarding to miss international fixtures, particularly with the Pacific Island nations whose players earn a fraction for their country of what they earn with their clubs playing.
Tekori comes off the back of a brilliant campaign with Toulouse, as he played a starring role in the French giants winning the Top 14 and reaching the semi-final of the Champions Cup.
He would walk into the Samoa team on merit and feature in their key pool matches against Ireland, Scotland and Japan, but it is understandable if he feels that an international tournament of such magnitude is a step too far at this point in his career.
Nonetheless, questions will once again be asked as to whether the French clubs are coercing some of their players to avoid the World Cup and play the entire season in the Top 14. This has been a major concern of some people and Tekori’s retirement will undoubtedly spark that debate again.
For now, Toulouse have started pre-season ahead of the defence of their domestic title and will be buoyed by the fact that the powerful second row is remaining at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.
WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what fans can expect to experience at the World Cup finals in Japan
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