'It's been an honour and a privilege' - All Blacks hero Piri Weepu announces retirement from all rugby

Former All Black Piri Weepu has announced his retirement from all forms of rugby.

The 71-Test halfback took to social media to share a photo of his hung-up boots to signify the end of his career, captioning the image; "It's been a honour and a privilege to have played footy over the years! #AllDone #HangingTheBootsUp".

Weepu made his provincial debut for Wellington in 2003, but has since donned the No.9 jersey for many teams both in New Zealand and overseas.

Weepu predominantly played his career for the Hurricanes from 2004 to 2011, but also spent two seasons with the Blues before heading overseas in 2014.

In Europe, Weepu picked up games for London Welsh, The Wasps, Oyonnax and Narbonne before he finally returned to New Zealand for his final season this year with Waiarapa Bush which was unfortunately cut short by health issues.

The 34-year-old earned his first national cap in 2004 against Wales at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff - the team won 26-25 on that day.

All Blacks' Piri Weepu looks on during the New Zealand All Blacks versus Tonga opening pool A match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 9 September 2011. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / photosport.co.nz
All Blacks' Piri Weepu looks on during the New Zealand All Blacks versus Tonga opening pool A match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup. Source: Photosport

He slowly earned his spot on the team as the regular option behind the ruck before emerging as a prominent figure in the All Blacks in their successful 2011 campaign.

With the first-five shortage crisis affecting the team, Weepu eventually stepped up to take kicking responsibilities for the knockout matches - including a stellar night with the boot against Argentina in the quarter-finals where he claimed seven penalties off seven attempts from all around Eden Park.

He was crowned a world champion two weeks later before making his final appearance in the black jersey two years later against France in New Plymouth.

Weepu was also renowned for his passionate leadership of the haka - of the 71 tests he played in, the descendant of Te Whakatohea and Ngai Tahu led over 50 challenges, even though he admitted later he wished his captain, Richie McCaw, had instead.

"I used to tell Richie to try and lead the haka, and he'd always look at me like 'nah, nah, nah.' I always wanted him to lead it while I was there," he told TVNZ's Marae earlier this year.

The former All Blacks halfback opened up to Marae about his time in the black jersey. Source: Marae