New Zealand
Mealamu to take on Ambassador role in retirement
ESPN Staff
August 25, 2015
Keven Mealamu farewelled Eden Park alongside Richie McCaw and Dan Carter © Getty Images

All Blacks veteran Keven Mealamu has confirmed he will retire after this year's Rugby World Cup but the 126-Test hooker will not be lost to the game in New Zealand.

Mealamu has agreed to take on a New Zealand Rugby Ambassador role in Auckland and the surrounding region for two years where he will help develop the city's rugby strategy and work closely with community rugby.

Super Rugby's most-capped player farewelled the Blues earlier this year and then waved goodbye to Eden Park as an All Blacks player for the final time in the Bledisloe Cup hammering of Australia. Mealamu will be named as one of first-choice hooker Dane Coles' deputies in the All Blacks' World Cup squad on Sunday and while he noted there was still the defence of the Webb Ellis Trophy to first take care of, he was thrilled to continue his involvement with the game in New Zealand next year.

"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," Mealamu said via a NZ rugby media release. "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.

The Blues' Keven Mealamu waves goodbye to Eden Park, Blues v Highlanders, Auckland, June 12, 2015
Keven Mealamu is widely respected throughout NZ © Getty Images

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to support the game which I love and which has given me so much, and in my Rugby Ambassador role I look forward to giving back to the game, to the Auckland region, the wider community, and to New Zealand Rugby."

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew paid tribute to Mealamu, saying his standing in the community made him the perfect fit as an Ambassador

"We're delighted to announce Keven's appointment as a New Zealand Rugby Ambassador," Tew said. "He's hugely respected by not only our organisation, but the wider rugby community. He has huge mana amongst the Auckland communities as well for everything he's achieved and is the perfect person to carry out this role.

"As an Aucklander, Keven is well aware of the challenges we face in the greater Auckland region. He's ideally placed to help us encourage more players, coaches and referees to embrace the game in the region."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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