New Zealand Rugby has paid tribute to All Blacks and Blues loose forward Jerome Kaino, who will pull down the curtain down on his career in New Zealand, announcing he is leaving at the end of the Investec Super Rugby season to play club rugby in France.
34-year-old Kaino, a double Rugby World Cup winner, made his professional rugby debut in 2004. He finishes his All Blacks career having played 81 Tests. He is the third most capped Blues player in history with 127 games to date, behind Keven Mealamu (164) and Tony Woodcock (137).
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said: “On behalf of New Zealand Rugby, I’d like to acknowledge everything that Jerome has done for the game in New Zealand. He’s had a massive impact in the Auckland, Blues and All Blacks jerseys.
“He helped set the benchmark for modern loose forward play with his dominant performances over the years, highlighted by his outstanding play at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups.
“We wish him and his family all the very best.”
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen added: “Jerome will leave New Zealand rugby with our best wishes. He’s had a long and distinguished career in the All Blacks jersey and brought a physicality and skill level to his game which made him the best in the world in his position. He can be rightly proud of everything he has achieved in the All Blacks, which included helping win two Rugby World Cups.
“I’d like to thank him for his service and also want to acknowledge his wife Di and the family for their outstanding support for him and the team over many years. It has certainly been appreciated and we wish them all the very best wishes for the next chapter of their lives.”
The Blues are adamant that there is only one way to honour their departing talisman, and that is in their on- field performance.
“We certainly salute and honour Jerome for his incredible contribution to this club both on and off the field,” said coach Tana Umaga.
“We are just at the start of a very important Super Rugby campaign and Jerome has a big part to play in that. Our players will want to send him off in the best possible way by our work on the field and building performances.”
Mini biography – Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino has the rare distinction of playing for every New Zealand national side since first pulling on the black jersey for New Zealand Schools back in 2001. A devastating defender and skilled ball carrier, he’s regarded as one of the greatest blindside flankers in world rugby. Kaino’s breakthrough at national level came in 2004 when he was named the World Rugby Under 21 Player of the Year, and made his Investec Super Rugby, provincial and All Blacks debuts. He went on to play 56 matches for his Auckland provincial side. One of the highlights of his All Blacks career was playing all but one minute of the All Blacks’ successful RWC2011 campaign, and was nominated for the World Player of the Year award. He had a two-year stint overseas playing in Japan before returning to New Zealand and playing his way back into the All Blacks. He played all seven of the team’s RWC2015 matches as the All Blacks went back to back. He started in 68 of his 81 Test matches, the second most by any All Blacks flanker (to Richie McCaw’s 139) and scored and 12 Test tries. His first and last games for the All Blacks were interestingly both against the UK Barbarians. He has currently played 280 first-class games.