New Zealand Rugby is celebrating further good news on the player retention front, with an abundance of All Blacks re-committing to the national body.
All Blacks and Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith, who has played 29 Tests since making his debut in 2012, has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby through to 2016.
Other All Blacks joining Smith in re-committing through to 2016 are fellow halfback and 2014 Test debutant TJ Perenara (three caps) and his Hurricanes teammates prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen (one cap) and first five-eighth Beauden Barrett (19 Tests); and Crusaders lock Dominic Bird (one Test) and loose forward Matt Todd (two Tests).
Three other players have extended their contracts through to the end of 2015 – the All Blacks most capped prop, 110-Test veteran Tony Woodcock, his 20-Test Blues front row teammate Charlie Faumuina and Crusaders back Tom Taylor (three Tests).
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “It’s great news for the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby, especially with a large number of talented, young players re-committing to the country. It bodes well for the future.”
The announcement is the latest in a number of key signings for New Zealand Rugby in recent times, with an ever-increasing list of players re-signing to New Zealand Rugby for the next few years.
All Blacks Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Samuel Whitelock and Aaron Cruden have all signed with New Zealand Rugby through to 2017, the same year the British and Irish Lions will tour New Zealand.
As well as the above, a number of current and recent All Blacks are also signed up, including hooker Dane Coles, lock Luke Romano and midfielder Sonny Bill Williams (all through to 2016).
Meanwhile captain Richie McCaw and fellow loose forwards Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Steven Luatua and Luke Whitelock, hooker Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks and fellow props Wyatt Crockett and Ben Afeaki, locks Brodie Retallick and Jeremy Thrush, halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, All Blacks Vice-Captain Daniel Carter and fellow first five-eighth Colin Slade, midfielders Ma’a Nonu and Francis Saili and outside backs Julian Savea and Charles Piutau are all signed through to 2015.