Matthew Warnier, Media365: Published on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.
As New Zealand and South Africa battle it out on Saturday in the final of the 10th World Cup, several players will be wearing their chosen jersey for the last time, with the desire to end their international careers on a very good note.
Siya Kolisi did not hide it from the press. “I think it will be the biggest match of my life,” the South African captain said before the World Cup final. It must be said that the Port Elizabeth native could pull on a Springbok jersey for the last time before a profound change occurs in his life. At the end of the confrontation against New Zealand, he will have his first professional experience outside South Africa, after signing for three years with the Racing 92 team, which may convince him to make room for the younger generation. However, if the South African national team may lose key players such as Mbongi Mbonambi or Handre Pollard at the end of the World Cup, the system in place in New Zealand already promises a major revamp in view of the 2027 edition. In fact, the New Zealand players are directly contracted to their federation (NZR). ) They therefore have to commit to playing in the country and hopefully wearing an All Blacks jersey. For Sam Whitlock, the choice has already been made. Like Siya Kolisi, the second row will consolidate the top 14, after his brother Luke convinced him to settle at Bjarne. The Palmerston North native has signed up for two years with the Baloise Department. Thus, he must go against Nepo Laulala, who said “yes” to the Toulousin stadium last July, or Leicester Vainga’anuku, who signed for RC Toulon.
Japan, a popular destination for all blacks
Dane Coles, who will not score on Saturday, should emulate Richie McCaw in 2015 and call time on his career once the World Cup is over. Other New Zealand internationals will succumb to the lure of the Japanese Championship, as clubs will not hesitate to invest heavily to attract the All Blacks to their ranks. Thus Brody Retallick will find Dave Rainey in the Kobelco Kobe Steelers when Aaron Smith settles for a Toyota Verblitz. The links between New Zealand and Japan are important, so much so that NZR is willing to release some players for a limited period to allow them to play in the Japanese Championship for a few months. A franchise that will benefit Shannon Frizell, who will be under Todd Blackadder’s orders in the Toshiba Brave Lupus, but especially Richie Monga, who will be the latter’s teammate, and Beauden Barrett. The converted fly-half will be a Toyota Verblitz player in 2024, after his first experience in Japan following the last World Cup, but without the certainty of returning to New Zealand in 2025 with a view to the 2027 edition of the World Cup. Finally, this final would be the final game for Ian Foster and his crew at the helm of the All Blacks. Although his tenure has not been smooth, the 58-year-old will complete eleven years of service with the New Zealand national team, having been assistant to Steve Hansen. His successor is already known, in Scott Robertson, who will leave the Crusaders with two successive Super Rugby Pacific titles.
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