Sam Whitelock has signed a new four-year deal with rugby in New Zealand.
New Zealand Rugby will include its rules to maintain one of its most valuable assets in the country in the long term.
The All Blacks star, Sam Whitelock, has signed a new four-year deal with NZ Rugby. But, according to the terms of the agreement, the 30-year-old will take a break from New Zealand rugby by the end of the year to contract the Japanese club Panasonic in the short term.
The Super Rugby 2020 season will be lost and will return to New Zealand at the end of the Japanese Top 14 season in May 2020.
"This is an important pick-up for us and we are absolutely happy that Sam has chosen to sign a four-year agreement. He is a top-level player, a centurion of all blacks, the most complete blockade of all time and all The blacks carry huge hands, "said CEO of NZ Rugby, Steve Tew.
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"He will have a short getaway with his young family and will experience a different culture, before returning to New Zealand. We believe that having a short period of playing in Japan as part of a long-term commitment of four years is one victory wins for him and for us ".
Tew said that NZ Rugby will allow Whitelock to be selected for All Blacks while he is in Japan, a decision taken based on his long-standing service and the fact that he has signed a four-year deal.
Whitelock also has exit clauses in his contract. Whitelock had already been signed until 2020, but had decided to negotiate a faster contract.
"Finally, this decision allows me to spend some time with my family to experience a new rugby environment in Japan, before being updated and ready for the rest of 2020," said Whitelock.
"I'm glad that there is clarity about my gaming future, so I can focus on the rest of this 2019 season with the crusaders."