Sam Whitelock claps via All Blacks website

Sam Whitelock has announced his retirement. Image: Via All Blacks website/Getty Images

All Blacks great retires to end Test comeback speculation

All Blacks veteran Sam Whitelock has officially drawn the curtain on his remarkable 153-cap Test career on Tuesday.

Sam Whitelock claps via All Blacks website

Sam Whitelock has announced his retirement. Image: Via All Blacks website/Getty Images

All Blacks star Samuel Whitelock has announced he will retire from all professional rugby at the end of the current club season in France, where he is playing for Pau.

The 35-year-old has called time on an illustrious professional career that started with Canterbury in 2008 and saw him become the most-capped All Blacks player in history.

Whitelock amassed 153 Test appearances for the All Blacks and was on the winning side in 125 of those games. His achievements include two Rugby World Cup titles, 11 Tri-Nations/Rugby Championships, 14 Bledisloe Cups, and seven Super Rugby titles in 180 games for the Crusaders.


While he feels more than capable of his ability to continue playing at the top level, Whitelock has decided that after 17 years of dedication to his profession, he would like to focus on other areas in his life.    

“I’ve been having a few conversations with my wife Hannah and the kids around what the future looks like for us. And it’s time to finish the playing chapter of rugby,” the now former All Blacks man said. 

“I think if you talk to anyone who has played for a long time, that desire [to compete] never leaves, it’s just that stage of life when you move on. 

“It’s not a decision that we have come to lightly, but it’s the right thing for myself and it’s the right thing for my wife and our three kids – Fred, Iris and Penelope.

“And I think that is what excites me the most – spending more time with my kids and my wife, and actually watching them play sport. Being able to go to the cross-country at school and those things.

“It’s hard to thank everyone, but obviously Hannah has been a massive part along with my parents, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents. And also the fans in general, they’ve been so receptive of myself and also the way I play. 

“I’m very appreciative of the support I’ve had, and there is no way I could have achieved the things I’ve had without them.”

Whitelock was the youngest All Black to reach 100 Tests and the quickest in the world to achieve the milestone. By the end of 2023, he had played 153 Test matches and sits second on the all-time list of most-capped internationals.

“The thing I’m proud of is that I never really counted Test matches – I always wanted to make the Test matches count,” said Whitelock. “So if it was my last one, I wanted to be able to walk away and say, ‘I gave it everything; I didn’t hold anything back.’ I was fully committed.”


All Blacks
The All Blacks hold many records in Test rugby – and after the past weekend’s win over Italy, they now hold two more! Image: Getty Images