Rugby: Former All Black captain Kieran Read retires from professional rugby after 15-year career

Former All Black captain Kieran Read has announced his retirement from professional rugby.

The 127-test veterans final game was Saturday night's Japanese Top League semi-final loss with his Toyota Verblitz coming up short against Panasonic Wild Knights. 

Read was a key part of the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks squad under the leadership of Richie McCa, before taking the reins for a four-year stint himself.

Read led the side in 52 tests with his international career ending at the 2019 Rugby World Cup when the All Blacks won the bronze medal match against Wales. 

The 35-year-old had a short stint for Counties-Manukau in the Mitre 10 Cup last year, in between a two-year stint in Japan.

After announcing his retirement, Read said he is "looking forward to returning to New Zealand and spending time with his family." 

Read was named the World Rugby Player of the year in 2013, while he is the All Blacks third most-capped player behind McCaw and Kevin Mealamu.

The former Crusaders star made 156 Super Rugby appearances for the red and blacks - winning four titles - and played 43 provincial games - 38 with Canterbury and five with Counties.