Sam Whitelock

All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock chased by wealthy French club Toulon

Whitelock, who is off contract with NZ Rugby after the All Blacks' series against the British and Irish Lions this winter, would be a prized signing for Toulon who are on the hunt for a world-class second rower to embed in their pack.

If Boudjellal managed to snare the signature of the 28-year-old Whitelock, who has played 84 tests since 2010, it would be considered a blow for NZ Rugby who have recently re-signed valued employees Ben Smith and Israel Dagg.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read has already signalled he is keen to re-sign through to the 2019 World Cup.