All Blacks and Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick has signed a new three-year deal with New Zealand Rugby, but he'll play overseas before returning to Aotearoa from 2021 to 2023.
In a sign of the growing challenge of keeping New Zealand's top talent in the country in the face of cash rich overseas clubs, NZR have given Retallick approval to leave at the end of the year and play two seasons in Japan's Top League in 2020 and 2021, with an extended family break in between.
He will then return to rugby in New Zealand in May 2021 and play through to the end of the 2023 season.
A 2015 World Cup winner and the New Zealand and World Player of The Year in 2014, 28-year-old Retallick is one of the All Blacks most valuable players.
He has played 75 tests.
Retallick said the opportunity to stay with New Zealand Rugby while getting to experience playing overseas was a major factor in his decision.
He hopes giving his body a rest from the physicality of Super and Test rugby would extend his playing years.
"It has been a big decision to make, but I'm grateful to be able to have the opportunity to head over to Japan and experience not just the rugby but for my family and to be immersed in another culture.
"I've been playing high-octane rugby with the Chiefs and All Blacks since 2012, and while I've loved every minute of it and my workload has been managed well, I've decided to give my body a break from the New Zealand game, so that ultimately I can extend my career here.
"I'm lucky enough to work with a great group of people in both the Chiefs and All Blacks - they're two teams I love to play for - so I look forward to returning in 2021."
Retallick has also re-signed with Hawke's Bay Rugby.
"Even though I haven't played for the 'Mighty Magpies' for a few years, I do want to acknowledge my connections to Hawke's Bay and thank them as well for their support."
NZR's Board has given approval to allow Retallick to be selected for the All Blacks on his return in 2021, in a move similar to the arrangement for Sam Whitelock next year.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "Having Brodie commit through to the next Rugby World Cup in 2023 is fantastic news for him, his wife Niki and their family, along with New Zealand Rugby.
"Whilst there's a playing sabbatical during that time - and Brodie will no doubt be missed - it also gives the future All Blacks coaches the opportunity to build even more depth in that position.
"Brodie is one of the best locks to ever play the game, if not the best, and has given his all for the All Blacks jersey, year in year out. Under this arrangement he'll extend his career in New Zealand, which is great for everyone."