All Blacks: Luke Whitelock signs three-year deal with Pau in France

Highlanders co-captain Luke Whitelock has confirmed he will leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the 2019 season.

The 28-year-old loose forward has signed a three-year deal with French club Pau and will join the team after this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Whitlock has played seven tests for the All Blacks, captaining them against Japan last November and against a French XV in 2017.

He will join fellow Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith, who is also heading to Pau on a seven-month deal after the World Cup.

With Whitelock and current captain Kieran Read leaving, the door is open for the likes of Ardie Savea or Akira Ioane to fill the void at the back of the scrum.

Pau is currently 11th in France's Top 14 Championship, coached by former All Black Simon Mannix, with Paul Tito as the assistant.

Whitelock is the latest All Black to confirm his departure, joining the likes of Read, Owen Franks, Nehe Milner-Skudder Matt Proctor, Liam Squire and Jackson Hemopo leaving for the northern hemisphere.

Fellow All Blacks Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams and Waisake Naholo are also expected to depart.


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