Sam Whitelock, the most capped player in All Blacks history, will retire from professional rugby at the end of the current club season in France, his federation announced on Tuesday.

Whitelock, a 35-year-old lock, played 153 times for New Zealand and won two World Cups.

He joined Pau in France’s Top 14 on a two-year contract after New Zealand were beaten by a single point by South Africa in the World Cup final last year.

Whitelock started the final on the bench but came on in the 55th minute.

The announcement he is retiring will put an end to speculation that new All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson had approached him about making a return to Test rugby this year.

“I’ve been having a few conversations with my wife Hannah and the kids around what the future looks like for us. And it’s time to finish the playing chapter of rugby,” Whitelock said in an All Blacks statement.

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