All Blacks captain Kieran Read says he will bring down the curtain on his long and illustrious All Blacks career at the World Cup in Japan next year.

Read, who turned 33 last week, is almost certain he'll be taking up an overseas contract. What he has not sorted out yet is where he will be going.

Read and his wife Bridget have three young children and they have always wanted to have an overseas experience together.

They want to have it before their children get too far into their schooling and 2020 is seen as the perfect time.


By that stage Read will be 34 and have completed his third World Cup – having been part of the victorious teams in 2011 and 2015.

The 2018 new All Black rugby jersey modelled by Sonny Bill Williams, Kieran Read and Rieko Ioane. Photo / Supplied
The 2018 new All Black rugby jersey modelled by Sonny Bill Williams, Kieran Read and Rieko Ioane. Photo / Supplied

He'll have played close to 50 tests as captain, been World Player of the Year in 2013, won Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders and played in a British Lions series.

There will be no major goal left to chase and it's not realistic to imagine he could push on through to 2023.

So the time will be right to follow in the footsteps of Daniel Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith who all retired from the All Blacks after the last World Cup at the same age Read will be next year and took up offshore contracts.

"Yeah I have," he says about whether he has thought about what he will do after next year's World Cup.

"So for me I think it probably won't be in New Zealand. We have always thought as a family that we would like to go overseas and use that experience for the kids. That is probably the main option at the moment."

The prospect of retiring from all rugby has ventured on to his radar but he says that's not a preference.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read. Photo /
All Blacks captain Kieran Read. Photo /

If his body holds up – and he says he's feeling strong and comparatively fresh – he would rather try to eke out one or two more seasons and it will most likely be somewhere in Europe.


"That [retirement] is an option as well," says Read. "There are plenty of options out there but I probably want to keep playing if I can. It is the experience for the kids that will be the main thing and it has to work for us as a family.

"I hope to have it wrapped up before the start of the season because then you can give 100 per cent because you know what you will be doing."

Confirmation that Read is almost certainly going to be stepping down from his role as All Blacks captain will inevitably intensify the career planning of Sam Whitelock when he returns to New Zealand after this tour.

Whitelock will be favoured to succeed Read as the long-term captain, having stood in for the skipper in five tests since November last year.

But Whitelock is also off contract after the 2019 World Cup and while he's contemplating making a four-year recommitment to New Zealand through to the 2023 World Cup, he is discussing the prospect of a playing sabbatical in Japan as part of the negotiation.

That option may be hard for New Zealand Rugby to grant if Whitelock is the next All Blacks captain and instead agreement could be reached he take a non-playing break with a view to start the process of grooming his successor.


The All Blacks have successfully worked captaincy succession plans since 2004 when Richie McCaw skippered the team against Wales before taking over permanently from Tana Umaga in 2006.

Read first captained the All Blacks in 2012, doing so another eight times before he succeeded McCaw in 2016. an extended break for Whitelock would allow an opportunity for his likely successor to gain invaluable experience.

But Read and Whitelock were not the only All Blacks considering a move to an overseas club.

Last week French newspaper Midi Olympique reported Ben Smith had signed a seven-month contract with Pau which would start after the World Cup.

Pau were also interested in the services of All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea who had been linked with a move overseas for a while now.

The French paper also reported that big spenders Toulon were in talks with Hurricanes outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder and Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty.


Last month Beauden Barrett also spoke out for the first time about a potential move to Japan after next year's World Cup while Brodie Retallick has also signalled a similar interest.