Patrick Tuipulotu

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu signs up with Toyota

They have also signed South Africa loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Tuipulotu, who led the Blues to this year's Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title, signed a contract with New Zealand Rugby through to 2025 and the new deal permitted him to move to Japan with a return home slated for mid-2022.

Tuipulotu is reunited with former All Blacks' World Cup-winning coach Steve Hansen, who is now director of rugby at the club, while he will be playing under coach Simon Cron, also a New Zealander.

Tuipulotu to stay with NZ rugby and Blues

The Blues captain will head to Japan later this year after the All Blacks end of year tour. He will miss the Super Rugby season next year and return to New Zealand mid-2022.

Tuipulotu said while there was a desire to experience playing overseas, he and his family wanted to live in New Zealand long-term.

"In some ways winning the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title has made my decision easier, because we have got that monkey off our backs at the Blues. It was a hard decision because the Blues as a group have developed so well.

Blues to lose All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu to Japan sabbatical in 2022

Multiple sources have confirmed to Stuff that Tuipulotu will exercise the sabbatical clause in his New Zealand Rugby contract to take up an offer said to be in the vicinity of $1.4 million to play the 2022 season in the revamped Japan competition. Toyota Verblitz is thought to be his destination.

However it is also set to see him extend his commitment to the Blues and New Zealand rugby beyond his current term through to the 2023 World Cup.

Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu: 'We can't be content — we have to get even better'

For Tuipulotu, more than most, it’s been a major mission, given the uncertainty, the changing goalposts and the personal investment he had in the great Blues Super Rugby turnaround which in 2020 finally stopped being an empty promise and morphed into a glorious overdue reality.

Tuipulotu named North Island skipper

Fellow All Black lock Sam Whitelock with lead the South Island side.

The All Blacks selection trio of head coach Ian Foster, assistant coach John Plumtree and Grant Fox have confirmed the two squads for the fixture scheduled for August 29.

Beauden Barrett will start at first-five for the North and Richie Mo'unga will start at number 10 for the South.

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu re-signs until 2023

The news comes hot on the heels of the successful opening weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa, which saw Tuipulotu's Blues beat the Hurricanes 30-20 at a sold-out Eden Park.

27-year-old Tuipulotu has played 30 Tests for the All Blacks and 74 matches for the Blues since making his Test and Super debuts in 2014.

He made the All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad in 2019 playing five Tests at the tournament.

"I am pleased to continue to play for New Zealand Rugby and the Blues until 2023 and excited about the future," said Tuipulotu.

'I feel in the shape of my life. I haven't stopped working since the World Cup.'

The 26-year-old, who has played 30 tests for the All Blacks, said he didn’t stop training after the World Cup in Japan, where he played four matches, including as a replacement in the semifinal defeat to England in Yokohama and bronze medal playoff victory over Wales in Tokyo.

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.

Patrick Tuipulotu may seek compensation if lab found to be at fault for positive drug test

Four days after Stuff broke news that Tuipulotu failed a test for a specified substance last November while touring with the All Blacks, results of the 24-year-old's second B sample came back negative.   

That cleared Tuipulotu, who faced a potential two-year ban, to return to training immediately with the Blues, but left several unanswered questions about the discrepancy in his two samples, which were tested nine weeks apart.