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All Black Mealamu hints at post-World Cup retirement

Reuters

All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu says he will make a decision about his rugby future at the end of the year amid speculation he will end his 15-year professional career after the World Cup in England.

The 36-year-old, who will play his 175th and final Super Rugby match against the Otago Highlanders on Friday, is almost certain to be included in New Zealand coach Steve Hansen’s squad for its World Cup defence in England from Sept. 18-Oct. 31.

“In some ways it will be emotional to share my final Super Rugby game on Friday with my teammates, my friends and especially my family,” Mealamu said in a statement on Wednesday when the Blues confirmed their side for the match.

“I’ve been blessed to have been able to play in Super Rugby for 15 years, and this is certainly not the end of my rugby quite yet. I will make a final decision on that at the end of the year.”

The match at Eden Park will be the last game of the 2015 season for the three-times champions, who are last in the New Zealand conference after winning just three games.

“This has been a tough season for the Blues but we can go out on a good note knowing we have performed to our best,” the hooker added.

“We have some players leaving as well … so we owe it to them and to ourselves to be the best we can be both individually and collectively on Friday.”

Mealamu, who has 124 caps for the All Blacks, is one of three test centurions expected to retire after the World Cup, with captain Richie McCaw and loosehead prop Tony Woodcock still to declare their plans.

The Canterbury Crusaders have already said they expected McCaw not to be with them in 2016, while the 137-cap flanker has also said he was unlikely to seek a lucrative contract overseas next year.