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Brodie Retallick signs new All Blacks deal that includes sabbatical

The second row will leave New Zealand at the end of the year and play two seasons in Japan.

Brodie Retallick is set to play in Japan for two seasons (David Davies/PA)
Brodie Retallick is set to play in Japan for two seasons (David Davies/PA)

Brodie Retallick has signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby that will see him take a break from playing for the All Blacks.

The 28-year-old, a World Cup winner in 2015 and the New Zealand and World Player of the Year in 2014, said he made the “big decision” to “give his body a break”.

Under the terms of the deal, Retallick will play in Japan’s Top League in 2020 and 2021, with an extended family break in between.

He will then return to rugby in New Zealand and play through to the end of the 2023 season and that year’s World Cup.

“It has been a big decision to make but I’m grateful to be able to have the opportunity to head over to Japan and experience not just the rugby but for my family and to be immersed in another culture,” Retallick told allblacks.com.

“I’ve been playing high-octane rugby with the Gallagher Chiefs and All Blacks since 2012, and while I’ve loved every minute of it and my workload has been managed well, I’ve decided to give my body a break from the New Zealand game, so that ultimately I can extend my career here.”

Like England, New Zealand have a policy of not selecting players who play their club rugby overseas.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said: “While there’s a playing sabbatical during that time – and Brodie will no doubt be missed – it also gives the future All Blacks coaches the opportunity to build even more depth in that position.

“I congratulate NZR on being inventive in their contracting process, as there would have been many offers for him to leave permanently.”

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