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New Zealand record cap Sam Whitelock to hang up rugby boots at end of season

New Zealand’s record cap holder Sam Whitelock has announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of this season.

The 35-year-old lock, who currently plays for French club Pau, will call time on his career when the Top 14 campaign finishes.

Whitelock won 153 caps for the All Blacks, a figure only bettered in the international men’s game by former Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Whitelock began his professional career with Canterbury in 2008 and was part of two World Cup-winning teams.

“I have been having a few conversations with my wife Hannah and the kids around what the future looks like for us and it is time to finish the playing chapter of rugby,” Whitelock said, on the All Blacks’ official website.

“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.”

All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson added: “Sam is an immortal of our incredible game. In terms of his rugby, Sam’s impact has been immense, both mentally and physically over four World Cup cycles.

“He is a winner who rose to any occasion as his competitive spirit drove him to the highest level of performance.”