There's no doubt New Zealand Rugby have had to compromise more than they ideally wanted to keep Sam Whitelock.

In October last year, the big man was ready to leave New Zealand after the World Cup. He probably wasn't in the best frame of mind to be making major decisions about his future as he was physically shattered.

Back-to-back title-winning seasons with the Crusaders and 24 tests in 16 months had just about broken him.


NZR had to negotiate him back from the brink. He and his young family had been sold on the idea of going to Japan.