All Black

Sam Whitelock staying with New Zealand Rugby

Under the terms of the deal Whitelock will take a break from New Zealand rugby at the end of this year to take up a short-term contract with Japanese club Panasonic. He will miss the 2020 Super Rugby season and return to New Zealand at the end of the Japanese Top 14 season in May 2020.

The re-signing of the two-time Rugby World Cup champion adds him to a core group of players who have now committed to New Zealand Rugby.

More surgery for SBW

Williams re-injured the troublesome knee, which he also had surgery on last year, late in the Blues victory over South African side the Stormers last month.

The 33-year-old then missed their fourth straight win, against the Waratahs last weekend, before the Blues on Thursday confirmed he would undergo minor arthroscopic surgery on Friday.

Ryan Crotty heading to Japan

The Crusaders centurion and 44-Test All Black has announced he will leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the year, and link up with Japanese club Kubota Spears.

Crotty confirmed the move last night.

"The All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury rugby have been such an important part of my life and I'm grateful for every opportunity I've had to represent my country, my province and my family over the years," Crotty said.

Cash lures the 'Bus' to Toulon

Savea is joining joining French club Toulon on a two year deal and will leave at the end of the Super Rugby competition.

The 27-year-old has played 54 tests for the All Blacks, scoring 46 tries, putting second on New Zealand's all-time try-scoring list behind only Doug Howlett.

Nick named the Bus Julian Savea made his debut for the All Blacks in 2012 against Ireland but struggled for form and fitness at times with his last test against the British and Irish Lions last year.

Conrad Smith retires from rugby

Smith, who has been playing for Pau in France, played 94 Tests for the All Blacks between 2004-2015, winning World Cups in 2011 and 2015, before leaving New Zealand and seeing out his career at Pau.

"I'm going to finish up this year, and I think I will spend a year or two either doing a little bit of work with International Rugby Players, but also within rugby itself and the coaching set-up, and see what I like," Smith told Irish website The42.

Patrick Tuipulotu tackle cited

Tuipulotu was cited out of the All Blacks' 28-23 victory over the French XV in Lyon on Tuesday night (French time) and will face a judicial hearing in Edinburgh on Friday.

Any chance Tuipulotu, who has played 15 tests but has slipped down the second-row pecking order this year, had of slipping into the test squad to face Scotland surely disappeared with news of his date with the judiciary.

It has resulted in coach Steve Hansen having to use starting No 6 Vaea Fifita as his lock cover this week, with the coach admitting it was not an ideal scenario.

All Black welcomes baby Milla

The Highlanders and Southland first five-eighths and partner Miriam on Saturday welcomed baby Milla into the world.

Sopoaga was a late withdrawal from the All Blacks' trip to Argentina for next weekend's Rugby Championship clash against the Pumas, replaced by Beauden Barrett who had originally been slated for a rare week off.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed on Friday before flying out of Auckland for Buenos Aires that Sopoaga would almost certainly join them in Cape Town for the following weekend's Rugby Championship finale against the Springboks.

SBW set for Blues debut

Williams hasn't played since rupturing his Achilles at the Rio Olympics in August.

He's one of three players welcomed back by the Blues with Steven Luatua returning after suspension and fellow loose forward Blake Gibson from injury.

All Black Rieko Ioane earns a recall to the starting line-up at centre after a big contribution off the bench in the win over the Western Force last weekend.

Luatua heading to Bristol

RNZ reports the 25-year-old Blues player is expected to leave after the Super Rugby season.

Luatua has played 15 Tests for the All Blacks, debuting in 2013 and playing his most recent game against Italy on the 2016 end-of-year tour.

He will link up with his former Blues coach Pat Lam at Bristol.

"The signing of Steven - beating off competition from a number of high profile clubs - underlines the ambition of Bristol as well as Stephen Lansdown and the board's desire to drive us forward," head coach Mark Tainton told website bristolrugby.co.uk.

All Black Dagg will stay in NZ

RNZ reports Dagg made the announcement on social media.

"I've decided to stick around in New Zealand for the next three years and do my time with the Crusaders."

It means he will be available for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The 28-year-old has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, the Crusaders and Hawke's Bay Magpies through to 2019, spurning offers from overseas.