Crusaders' All Black to retire
NEWS: All Blacks and Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett has announced his retirement.
It means that not only has he played his last Test for the All Blacks, but this is also his last season of Super Rugby with the Crusaders.
The hugely-popular 35-year-old prop, who made his professional debut in 2006, is the most capped Super Rugby player of all time and ran out for his 13th Super season and in his 188th Crusaders match on Saturday in their opening match against the Chiefs. He played his 71st and final Test for the All Blacks against Wales in the last Test of 2017.
Crockett made the announcement on social media this morning.
"It is never an easy thing to know when the time is right, but my family have made a number of sacrifices over the past 13 years which have allowed me to live out my dream," Crockett said.
"Now it's time for me to give back to them, simply by being there more than I have been able to as a professional rugby player.
"To all of the coaches, management, supporters and of course, my teammates over the years, thank you for your belief, support and friendship throughout my international and Super Rugby career.
"I intend on making the most of my last season with the Crusaders, enjoying every minute of it and giving this team everything I've got."
Despite finishing his international and Super Rugby career, Crockett will still be playing rugby in New Zealand - he has signed a two-year deal to play for the Tasman Mako in the NPC.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said: "Crocky epitomises the Crusaders man. He's got the biggest heart in the game and as well as being a senior member of the side and our most capped Crusader, he's certainly led the way with his behaviour off the field.
"He is always the first player to get behind a charitable cause or put his hand up for community engagement and we'll always be grateful for his immense contribution in that respect."
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said: "Crocky leaves behind a fantastic legacy here at the Crusaders. He provides leadership every time he takes the field and his mindset is never to give any less than 100 percent.
"From a team perspective, he's played a huge role in shaping our culture here and has mentored many a player during his 13 years in the side. So while his presence around here will be sorely missed, his legacy is firmly entrenched in red and black rugby."
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew has paid tribute to a player he describes as "incredibly loyal and one of the nicest players in the game."
"I want to thank ‘Crocky' for his tremendous service to the game. He is one of the game's good guys, has been an outstanding, hard-working professional rugby player and the ultimate team man in every team he has played in, whether it be Canterbury, the Crusaders or the All Blacks.
"We will all enjoy watching him play over the next few months and help celebrate his final Investec Super Rugby season and look forward to watching his return to provincial rugby where he will no doubt continue to make an impact."
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen echoed Tew's sentiments.
"On behalf of the All Blacks, I want to thank ‘Crocky' for everything he has done for the team, he's been a great servant of the game and definitely enhanced the jersey during his time in it.
"I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank his wife Jenna for the sacrifices the family made to allow him to be available to play the game for as long as he has.
"He leaves the All Blacks as a world-class front rower, senior professional and much-loved member of our squad. We're all incredibly proud of what he has achieved and we wish him and his family all the very best."
Tasman Rugby Union CEO Tony Lewis said: "The Tasman Rugby Union welcomes Wyatt home to Nelson and believes that he'll be a valuable addition to the Mako squad in 2018 and 2019. The Union is also excited that Wyatt will be making a vital contribution in the mentoring of young front forwards in the region."