All Blacks to select Sam Whitelock from abroad on a new four-year contract



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Sam Whitelock was prepared to give up the All Blacks shirt if New Zealand Rugby (NZR) did not follow his rules to keep him around.

The 30-year blockade has signed a new four-year contract with NZR. But under the terms of the deal, he will miss next year's Super Rugby competition to sign a short-term contract with Japanese club Panasonic.

Whitelock, who will replace Kieran Read as All Blacks captain after this year's World Cup, will remain eligible for the national team while in Japan, a decision made on the basis of his longtime service and the fact that he has signed a agreement.

This, in addition to having a termination clause in his contract, was instrumental in not losing Whitelock for once.

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"To tell you the truth, if you'd asked me a few months ago what we were doing, we probably would have walked away," Whitelock admitted at Rugby Park in Christchurch on Wednesday.

"I thought we were only going to Japan and we would not be going back to New Zealand but all the credit for New Zealand Rugby they sat us down and we solved some issues and we are very happy with what we are doing now"

Sam Whitelock has signed a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby.

GETTY IMAGES

Sam Whitelock has signed a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby.

Despite signing the contract until the 2023 World Cup, Whitelock, who is on Friday waiting for another son with his wife Hannah, will have the ability to give up before that.

The 108-hour All Black stress family test was only becoming more important to him, and All Blacks' year-end touring was particularly difficult with a young family.

"So if it's too hard for the family, or my body is not holding up, or I'm not liking it, that's when we can end it. [exit clause] one of the main things that kept him from going, "Whitelock said.

The victorious Crusader captain, Sam Whitelock, raises the Super Rugby trophy after last year's final.

IAIN MCGREGOR / STUFF

The victorious Crusader captain, Sam Whitelock, raises the Super Rugby trophy after last year's final.

"I've got these options there, we're going to approach it year after year, I'm still enjoying my football here in New Zealand, that's why we were very interested in staying."

Whitelock was timid when asked if the All Black captaincy was appearing in the contract negotiations, pointing out that the national team was poised to have a new technical team later this year.

"I did not run into a decision, I talked to a lot of people about what they were thinking and feeling, and I think that made me feel better and made me want to stay.

"There will be some great challenges, as there will be coaches and players leaving the All Blacks, Crusaders, which is a challenge that makes me excited, trying to improve what has already happened and trying to improve."

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew praised Whitelock's replacement as a "big" blow.

"This is a major overhaul for us and we are absolutely delighted that Sam has chosen to sign a four year contract. He is a world class player, a Centurion All Blacks, the most protected of all time and He carries immense mana," he said.

"He will have a short break with his young family and experience a different culture before returning to New Zealand. We think that having a short time in Japan as part of a four-year long-term commitment is a victory." win for him and for us. "

The Whitelock single deal could, of course, set a precedent for other players when it comes time for them to launch new deals with the NZR.

The first five-year-old Beauden Barrett, who has 73 test caps on his behalf, is another who could have similar clauses to Whitelock if a new deal is made before he ends the contract later this year.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said Whitelock had gained the flexibility the NZR offered, while the Crusaders captain said caution was needed.

"If everyone tried, I do not think that would be a good idea," Whitelock said.

"I think everyone's affairs will be different, I think some guys are going to leave and maybe they will not go back to the same player, maybe some guys will come back better."

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