All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock has signed a four-year extension that will see him stay in New Zealand after a Japanese sabbatical.
Under the terms of the new deal, Whitelock will miss the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season and take up a short-term contract with the Panasonic Wild Knights.
The 30-year-old will then return to New Zealand at the end of the Top 14 season in May 2020 and rejoin the Crusaders.
‘This is a major re-signing for us and we’re absolutely delighted that Sam has chosen to sign a four-year deal,’ New Zealand chief executive Steve Tew said.
‘He’ll have a short break away with his young family and experience a different culture, before returning to New Zealand. We think having a short playing stint in Japan as part of a long-term, four-year commitment is a win-win for him and us.’
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix