, WELLINGTON, May 26 – All Black enforcer Jerry Collins announced Monday he is retiring from rugby in New Zealand.
The move had been widely expected, with rumours circulating the 48-Test veteran was destined to play in Europe, joining the exodus of All Blacks after the failed 2007 World Cup campaign.
Collins did not reveal what his next move was, except to say he wanted to take a break after being allowed an early release from his New Zealand Rugby Union contract.
He said he made his decision during the closing stages of the Super 14 competition but had no overseas contract offers and was not rushing to make a decision on his future.
"But I’ve been thinking about things for a while and I know in my heart that it’s time to step back. That’s just where I’m at," he said in a statement.
The 27-year-old flanker gave a hint he was playing his last match for his Super 14 franchise, the Wellington Hurricanes, on Saturday when he performed the valedictory gesture of taking the last conversion kick in his side’s 33-22 semi-final loss to the Canterbury Crusaders.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry praised Collins’ uncompromising style of play and contribution to the national team.
"Jerry has been a key member of the All Blacks team for a number of years and played a major role in some of our best performances," Henry said.