All Blacks captain Sam Cane to retire from Test rugby at the end of 2024

World Cup-winning All Black Sam Cane will step away from Test rugby at the end of 2024 after signing a long-term deal in Japan, New Zealand Rugby confirmed on Monday afternoon.

Kane, who has played 95 Test matches since making his debut against Brian O'Driscoll's Ireland in 2012, will move to Japan in 2025 after signing a three-year contract with Suntory Goliath.

The 32-year-old is currently on sabbatical with the Japan Rugby League One side, but has decided to recommit for the foreseeable future after requesting an early release from his deal with New Zealand Rugby.

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Last year's All Blacks captain will still be eligible to represent New Zealand on the international stage this year, with Kane the chance to become the squad's 13th player.y Centurion test.

But this will be his final year in the black.

With a second child on the way, Keane explained that putting his family first was the main reason behind his decision to end his glittering international career.

“I had a good opportunity with Centauri Sangoliath who were willing to offer me a three-year contract,” Kane said in a statement. “It was something we had to seriously think about as a family given the stage I'm at in my career. It will help me through to 2027 when I'm 35.”y birthday.

“I've always thought that if I could play rugby professionally for that amount of time, I would do really well considering the position I play in and the age I started playing professionally.

“I had to weigh everything and in the end, with a young family, it seemed like the best decision to help build our future. It's been very difficult because I love the teams I represent here in New Zealand.”

“Obviously we love this country, we love being around friends and family but we ultimately made the decision to sign with Suntory, which we are really excited about. We enjoyed our first year there and thought it was the best thing for our young family.

Keane led the All Blacks into battle at last year's Rugby World Cup in France, but an agonizing defeat to South Africa in the final looked set to be his last Test match as captain.

While it remains unclear who will lead the All Blacks under new coach Scott Robertson, Keane has offered to support the new New Zealand captain as part of the natural process that occurs in rugby.

“I have had my time as captain and it has been a great honor and privilege,” he added.

“If I'm lucky enough to be selected in the All Blacks team this year, I'll still be there. I love this team and I just want to see the All Blacks do well, so if part of my role is to contribute leadership off the field or on the field “I will be happy to support the new captain as best I can for him and help make it a smooth transition for the All Blacks.”

“I'm really grateful for the time I had to wear the captain's armband. It's been a huge honor and privilege – lots of lessons learned and growth from it.

New All Blacks coach Robertson, who has led the Crusaders to seven Super Rugby titles in as many years, spoke to Keane about his decision to retire from international rugby.

Coach Scott Robertson explained: “Having discussed this matter at length with Sam, I fully understand the reasons behind his decision and support him.”

“The position he plays in demands a lot from you mentally and physically, both of which increase when you are captain. So to do what he has done over such a long period is an amazing achievement. I completely respect him taking this opportunity.”


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