Rugby-Lock Retallick joins All Blacks exodus to Japan

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - International Test - Wales v New Zealand - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain - October 30, 2021 New Zealand's Brodie Retallick in action Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File Photo

(Reuters) - Brodie Retallick will join the growing list of All Blacks heading to Japan after the Rugby World Cup in France, with the New Zealand lock having signed up for a second stint with the Kobelco Steelers.

Retallick's 2024 plans were confirmed on Wednesday, a day after veteran All Black backs Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett announced deals with Toyota in Japan's top flight.

Regarded as one of New Zealand's finest locks, 100-test Retallick will play his last season with the Waikato Chiefs in Super Rugby this year and push for selection at a third World Cup in France.

The former World Rugby Player of the Year played for the Steelers in the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster paid tribute to the 31-year-old from north Canterbury.

"Brodie is a special person who continues to contribute a massive amount to the All Blacks," he said in a statement.

"I’m pleased he has been able to secure his next step in life. But I’m also fully confident that he will remain 100% focused on what we need to achieve this year."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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