Wellington - Veteran All Black hooker Keven Mealamu confirmed on Tuesday
that he will hang up his boots after this year's Rugby World Cup, saying he
plans to become a "rugby ambassador" in New Zealand.
The 36-year-old warhorse has so far played 126 Tests and was widely expected
to retire after helping New Zealand's title defence in England.
Mealamu said he had accepted an ambassadorial role with New Zealand Rugby
focusing on Auckland, where he racked up the bulk of his competition-record 175
Super Rugby appearances with the Blues.
"I've loved my time as a rugby player here in New Zealand and loved
being part of all the teams I have represented, particularly the All
Blacks," he said.
"While there's a little bit more I want to achieve this year before I
hang up my boots, it's cool to know that I am going to be still involved in
rugby in this new role."
Mealamu, who is of Samoan descent, is expected to mentor Pacific players in
Auckland's large islander community.
While a bruising opponent on the field, Mealamu has a reputation as a gentle
giant away from the game, including illustrating several children's books for