No breaks for Read and Whitelock
No breaks for Read and WhitelockSHARE
All Blacks forwards Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock have signed contract extensions with the NZRU, but will not get a 'sabbatical'.
The new deals mean that they are committed to the All Blacks and Crusaders for the next four years, including the British and Irish Lions tour in 2013.
However, the contracts signed by Read and Whitelock did not include the sabbatical clause that Richie McCaw and Dan Carter were allowed.
McCaw took the first six months of this year off and Carter is expected to take a break next year, but NZRU boss Steve Tew said that there are no planned breaks in the latest contracts.
"We have not built extended leaves into these contracts but we will continue to manage both of these players carefully and do what is necessary to keep them playing at their very best," Tew said.
"We have never called them sabbaticals. I think that is a term that has been coined by the media rather than ourselves. Effectively what Conrad (Smith) is going on now (who is going to miss this weekend's Test in Dunedin and the northern tour) is an extended holiday – which we have been very happy to grant him on his basis of his commitment to us and the service he has given the sport.
"We did the same with Richie and I think we will be carefully managing these two in close conjunction with the All Blacks and the Crusaders coaches.
"At this stage we are not envisaging them having extended holidays as some other players have done," he told Fairfax NZ News.
Tew added that getting two such quality players to commit like this is a major boost for New Zealand rugby.
"This is a significant re-signing for the New Zealand Rugby Union with the tenure of the players' contracts covering two major rugby events – the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017," Tew added.
Tew clarified there was a 'no out' clause in the contract which means they are fully committed to staying in New Zealand.
"A number of long-term contracts have options for players to terminate or for New Zealand Rugby to do the same. In this case we have committed to confirmed four years contracts. Until the end of the 2017 season these contacts hold," he said.
Read and Whitelock join in-form All Black wing Ben Smith who is also signed for the next four years.
Read, who is set to replace Richie McCaw as captain once the veteran openside retires, said that his family played a big role in his decision.
"The time is right to commit to New Zealand long-term, doing the right thing for my family played a big part and I'm incredibly happy with the decision," he said.
Coach Steve Hansen said that it was a boost for the All Blacks ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
"The fact two world-class players in Kieran and Sam have re-signed for four more years is a huge positive for the All Blacks," Hansen said. "Not only are they part of the current success of the team, but it means we have a nucleus of experienced players to take the team into the future beyond 2015."