Sir Michael Jones has hailed Chiefs and All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick as one of the best to ever pull on the famous black jersey, comparing him to the legendary Sir Colin Meads.
Retallick today signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby, one that will see him play two seasons in Japan after this year's World Cup, returning in mid-2021 until the end of 2023.
World Player of the Year in 2014 and a World Cup winner in 2015, he is widely regarded as one of the best locks in the game.
Sir Michael, speaking at Eden Park as it was announced the venue would host Tonga, Fiji and Samoa in warm-up matches for this year's World Cup, said New Zealand Rugby, of which he was on the board, had to innovate to keep its best players.
That included offering players the chance to earn well overseas and experience other cultures.
Seen as one of rugby's best back-rowers, Sir Michael said Retallick, 28, was treading new ground for locks.
"He's a very very special player," he said.
"We've been very privileged and blessed as New Zealand Rugby and as All Blacks to have great locks throughout the ages.
"Sir Colin Meads was the pinnacle, and there's a lot about Brodie that speaks about a modern-day Sir Colin. The ruggedness, the toughness, the mental resilience and the way he's come back from injury.
"He's a true professional."