After months of speculation, All Black captain Tana Umaga has retired from Test rugby.
“I want to spend more time with my family, and I just believe I sacrificed a lot of time with my family to wear the black jersey,” he told the press in New Zealand on Tuesday.
Following the conclusion of the All Blacks’ epic 2005 year, Umaga hinted that he had played his last international, and it was thought that coach Graham Henry was privately behind the skipper stepping aside.
Umaga was quick to emphasise, however, that he was not pushed.
“I did that willingly but now it’s time for me to sacrifice something and give it back to my family.”
Henry expressed his sadness at Umaga’s decision, but respected his former captain’s wishes.
“I think its a reflection on Tana’s strength as a person and development as a person that he’s got his priorities right,” Henry said.
“This day is a special day I think. This is one of the great All Blacks and he’s retiring from the game. He was great as a player, he was very brave, led from the front, a fine defender, a huge determination to win, one of the great All Black captains.”
Umaga played 74 Tests for the All Blacks, 21 as captain. He will play for the Hurricanes in the inaugural Super 14.
Richie McCaw is heavily favoured to inherit the captaincy of the Tri-Nations champs.