Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick has announced a new three-year deal to stay with the All Blacks, but will take an "extended break" from New Zealand after this year's World Cup.
Retallick's new deal commits him through to 2023 but the 28-year-old will leave New Zealand after 2019 for two seasons in Japan's Top League before returning in May 2021 to play out the remainder of his deal.
He will play for Kobe Kobelco Steelers, where former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith is the director of rugby.
"It has been a big decision to make, but I’m grateful to be able to have the opportunity to head over to Japan and experience not just the rugby but for my family and to be immersed in another culture," Retallick said.
"I’ve been playing high-octane rugby with the Chiefs and All Blacks since 2012, and while I’ve loved every minute of it and my workload has been managed well, I’ve decided to give my body a break from the New Zealand game, so that ultimately I can extend my career here.
"I’m lucky enough to work with a great group of people in both the Chiefs and All Blacks – they’re two teams I love to play for – so I look forward to returning in 2021."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen applauded Retallick on the new deal.
"Having Brodie commit through to the next Rugby World Cup in 2023 is fantastic news for him, his wife Niki and their family, along with New Zealand Rugby," Hansen said.
"Whilst there’s a playing sabbatical during that time - and Brodie will no doubt be missed - it also gives the future All Blacks coaches the opportunity to build even more depth in that position.
"I congratulate NZR on being inventive in their contracting process, as there would have been many offers for him to leave permanently.
"Brodie is one of the best locks to ever play the game, if not the best, and has given his all for the All Blacks jersey year in year out. Under this arrangement he’ll extend his career in New Zealand, which is great for everyone."
Retallick has played 75 Tests for the All Blacks since debuting in the black jersey in 2012 as a 21-year-old.
In that time, he has been named the World Rugby Player of the Year once after a stellar season in 2014 and gone on to win a Rugby World Cup with the team a year later.