All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Nehe Milner-Skudder look bound for France after next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth is also reportedly on the verge of committing to the club after next year’s showpiece event.

Whitelock is contracted to New Zealand Rugby through 2020, and according to Fairfax, is in talks with NZR regarding a new four-year extension.

The 107-Test lock will captain the Crusaders as they defend their Super Rugby title for another season though he may take an extended break after the All Blacks’ northern tour. Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said “nothing is definite” until he has spoken to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen later this year.

Word Whitelock and Milner-Skudder are off to Toulon comes days after news All Blacks fullback Ben Smith reportedly agreed to join French club Pau on a short-term deal after next year’s World Cup.

French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique reported the deal last week, with understanding the Highlanders co-captain would head to Japan after his stint in France.

It is unclear whether Milner-Skudder’s stint in France would be for the short-term, while it seems likely 29-year-old Whitelock would return to New Zealand.


Milner-Skudder burst onto the scene in 2015, starring at the Rugby World Cup and collecting World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year Award but injuries have limited him to just 12 appearances for the national side.

Toulon currently host former All Blacks Julian Savea, Liam Messam and Malakai Fekitoa, but have limped to 13th place in the Top 14 so far with just two wins and six losses to their name.

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