Richie McCaw (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The All Blacks are going into the World Cup as favourites and defending champions, yet they are in for an emotional tournament regardless of what happens between now and October 31.
Some of the retirements have not yet been made official, but there are a few All Blacks who are reportedly set to have their last hurrah in international colours. Here they are ...
Is Richie McCaw the greatest rugby player of all time? There are many who believe so. He has more Test caps than any player in the history of the game, and has become one of the most respected leaders the game has seen too. He is one of a number of All Blacks expected to pack it in after RWC 2015, but there are surely none who will be missed more than him.
The majestic left boot of Carter will be remembered by all of those who witnessed it. He will surely go down as one of the greatest flyhalves to have played the game and is the leading points scorer in the history of Test rugby. His and McCaw’s departures combined would signal the end of a golden generation for New Zealand rugby – though you wouldn’t bet against them finding more than suitable replacements in the years to come.
One of those guys that has rubbed South Africans up the wrong way for years, Mealamu is calling it a day at the end of RWC 2015. How much of a part he plays in this tournament remains to be seen given the electricity of Dane Coles, but Mealamu’s years of experience could prove crucial coming on as a calming influence towards the end of matches.
Woodcock has amassed a cool 115 Tests himself. He is widely considered one of the best looseheads in the world, and at 34 he is expected to play in a front row alongside Coles and Owen Franks. Will he leave the international stage with a second World Cup winner's medal?
Nonu has carved a reputation for himself as one of the greats in recent years and he remains one of the most explosive players at the tournament. The centre is just three Tests away from reaching 100 and will surely get to that milestone at RWC 2015 before packing it in.
The 33-year-old has 88 Tests to his name, but will add a few more to those throughout the World Cup. Smith seems to be in pole position to wear the No.13 jersey, but is unlikely to stick around after the tournament.