All Black stars locked down
All Black stars locked downSHARE
The world champion All Blacks have been boosted by a number of key players committing their futures to New Zealand rugby.
The list of signings for the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) include the key signatures of centre Conrad Smith and fellow outside backs Israel Dagg and Ma'a Nonu, the All Blacks most capped prop Tony Woodcock, fellow front rower Andrew Hore, lock Sam Whitelock and loose forward Kieran Read.
Smith, Dagg and Woodcock join halfbacks Piri Weepu and Aaron Smith, loose forward Victor Vito and hooker Hikawera Elliot, who have all signed through to 2014, while prop Ben Franks has signed through to 2015. Nonu, Whitelock and Read join locks Ali Williams and Anthony Boric in signing through to 2013.
Conrad Smith, the All Blacks most capped centre, said that the decision was an easy one.
"I love playing my footy here so was keen to extend my contract again. Given my number of years in the game, I was impressed with the way the whole process was handled and I look forward to the next few years in New Zealand," he said.
The players join an impressive group of 2012 and recent All Blacks who have re-committed to New Zealand rugby, including captain Richie McCaw, vice-captain Daniel Carter, props Owen Franks and Wyatt Crockett, hookers Keven Mealamu and Corey Flynn, locks Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano, loose forwards Liam Messam and Sam Cane, inside backs Andy Ellis, Aaron Cruden, Colin Slade and Beauden Barrett and outside backs Cory Jane, Hosea Gear, Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison, Zac Guildford and Richard Kahui.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said that the continuity would stand the team in good stead as they seek to improve further.
"We are delighted that a number of players have re-signed with New Zealand rugby for the immediate future. I would like to congratulate the NZRU and the staff on their hard work in achieving that. Having that experience available will be essential in building this team beyond where it is at the moment and gives us confidence in going forward."