- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 10 February 2021, 9:05AM
All Blacks veteran lock Brodie Retallick has made a clear indication that 2023 will be his final season in the black jersey.
The 29-year-old is currently taking a New Zealand Rugby sabbatical and playing in Japan's Top League competition with the Kobelco Steelers.
He returns home in May and in an interview with The XV website, said it will mark the final stage of his career.
"I'm looking forward to, if all goes to plan, getting back to the All Blacks and playing two seasons for the Chiefs," he told The XV.
"Realistically, they'll probably be the last couple in New Zealand before I decide what I'll do next, whether that's hanging up the boots or maybe coming back to Japan.
"I have a rough idea in my head on how I plan on doing the last third of my career, or whatever you want to call it. Whether that goes to plan or whether I have a change of mind, I'm not sure. But I've got a family and a wife and kids and stuff, so you have to think about these things."
In 2019, Retallick signed a four year deal with New Zealand Rugby that included a clause where he could play back-to-back seasons in Japan.
His playing time in Japan has halted by the Covid-19 pandemic with the 2020 season cancelled just six rounds into the season while the last season has been delayed until mid-February.
A Rugby World Cup 2015 winner and the New Zealand and World Player of The Year in 2014, Retallick is now into his 10th season of professional rugby and been a powerhouse player ever since making his professional debut as a 21-year-old in 2012.
Retallick faced a race against time to make the 2019 Rugby World Cup after suffering a dislocated shoulder against South Africa three months out from the tournament. He returned for what would be the final pool game against Namibia before starting the two knockout games and the bronze final.
The lock has played 107 games for the Chiefs and 82 tests for the All Blacks and told The XV, the Japan sabbatical was much needed.
"When I arrived at the Chiefs, and from there, making the All Blacks, those first five or six years were pretty full-on – I played a lot of rugby," he said. "I'd sometimes joke with people, they'd say to me, 'Oh, you're not that old' and I'd say, 'Yes, but I've played a lot of rugby.
"Looking back over the last two or three years, I don't know whether those sorts of injuries that started to catch up on me were a price of playing a lot of rugby in those early years or not, I'm not sure. But coming to Japan was definitely a result of how much rugby I played in those first five or six years."
Retallick told The XV he didn't plan on heading north after 2023.
"I've never really honestly considered the Northern Hemisphere," he said. "It was either stay in New Zealand or come to Japan. Obviously, you never say never, but we've thoroughly enjoyed our time in Japan and the Kobelco Steelers have been awesome to us with all their support and stuff. So yes, I'm not going to say no, but I'm not probably looking to go there at all really."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission