Christchurch - All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald has retired from international rugby and will play in Japan from the end of the current Super 14 season.
MacDonald said on Thursday he will join the Osaka-based Kintetsu club, coached by New Zealander Peter Sloane, for his second stint in Japan. He played for Yamaha in 2004 before returning to New Zealand to reclaim his All Blacks jersey and to extend an international career which comprises 56 Tests.
MacDonald said he had decided to wind up his careers for the All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury province.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make, as I will obviously miss playing for the Crusaders and Canterbury," he said. "I have had many good times here, including winning six titles with the Crusaders and the Ranfurly Shield twice for Canterbury."
All Blacks coach Graham Henry described MacDonald as "the ultimate professional."
"Leon has performed at the very highest level and has done fantastically well for the All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury," he said.
"He has had to overcome major obstacles with injury and has returned to play some exceptional rugby."