Wednesday, March 22, 2023
HomeSportsAll Blacks stars Barrett, Smith and Retallick set to leave NZ Rugby

All Blacks stars Barrett, Smith and Retallick set to leave NZ Rugby

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Three modern day All Blacks greats are set to continue their rugby careers in Japan following this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

Star duo Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett have signed with Japan Rugby League One side Toyota Verblitz, while lock Brodie Retallick has reportedly put pen to paper with Kobe Steelers.

The Highlanders made the announcement about their star halfback on Tuesday, where they confirmed in a statement that Smith had signed a “long-term contract” with the Japanese club.

However, as for Barrett, the New Zealand Rugby Union are reportedly intent on luring the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year back home in the future.

Smith and Barrett both played an integral role in the All Blacks’ stunning Rugby World Cup triumph in 2015, and a more than lived up to the moniker of legends since.

Both players will go down in history as two of the most successful All Blacks of all time, having become the most-capped backs in New Zealand Rugby history.

Smith played his 114th Test match in the black jersey during last year’s end-of-season tour, while Barrett is currently equal-second with legendary first-five Dan Carter on 112 caps.

Reflecting on his time in New Zealand, scrumhalf Smith expressed how thankful he was to have been given the opportunity to live out his “dream.”

“From the time I signed my first contract in 2008 until now, I have been living my dream,” Smith said in a statement.

“I have been blessed to represent my home with the Manawatu Turbos, who helped me chase my dream of being a Super Rugby player.

“I have to say a big thanks to the Highlanders for believing in me. I have done it all with that team and they have always been there for me.

“Thank you to every Highlanders player, staff member and fa. You have given me everything and more in the 13 years we have had together.”

Some truly gifted players have donned the coveted black jersey over the years, but not everyone has been able to revolutionise their position like Aaron Smith.

As Highlanders head coach Clarke Dermody said, Smith “defined halfback play” throughout his time with the Turbos, Highlanders and All Blacks.

“Aaron has defined halfback play and the way we like to play the game, fast, skilled and determined for so long it’s hard to imagine a team sheet without his name on it,” Dermody said.

“As a team, we can only thank him for all that he has done for us and wish him, Teagan and his family all the best for the future.”

As for Brodie Retallick, the 2014 World Rugby Player of the Year will reportedly head back to Japan for his second stint with the Kobe Steelers.

It was reported last month that Retallick was set to play his final Test match in the black jersey this year, before heading back overseas.

According to Newshub, the official announcement about the star locks departure will happen soon.


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