All Black Aaron Smith re-signs with NZR, Highlanders through until 2023

All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has announced this morning that he has signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby which will see him remain at the Highlanders and Manawatū through until 2023.

Source: 1 NEWS

Smith said his decision revolved around "a number of things" but his love for the game and the teams he's already playing for played a key role.

"I guess I have to adapt and work a little harder than I did back in 2011, but one thing that hasn't changed is my love for the Highlanders, the All Blacks and Manawatū," Smith said.

"Dunedin has been good to me. My wife Teagan and I have a home and a business here and our son Luka was born here. I felt that committing to the Highlanders for another few years in some small way says thanks for all the support we have enjoyed over the years."

The 32-year-old played his 151st game for the Highlanders on the weekend and is the most capped All Black halfback of all time (97 Tests).

He made his provincial debut for Manawatū in 2008, Super Rugby debut in 2011 and Test debut a year later and is set to become the Highlanders' most capped player this season surpassing his namesake Ben Smith (153 caps).

He also has the chance to bring up 100 Tests for the All Blacks this year, Covid-pending.

"Last year was a tough one for sport, but hopefully we'll soon see the world rugby calendar start to take shape and there'll be plenty of exciting, new challenges to look forward to," Smith added.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said the re-commitment of Smith was huge news and his re-signing could not be underestimated.

"He is so instrumental in the way we play the game and is such a vital cog for us, both on and off the field, so this is fantastic news.  We're delighted that Aaron, Teagan and his family have decided to commit to New Zealand and congratulate them on the decision."

Highlanders Head Coach Tony Brown added he is also delighted to have his star halfback recommit to the team for the next few years.

"As co-captain, 'Nug' is a huge part of this team. His leadership, commitment, drive and skill are all key aspects of his contribution to the Highlanders. He continues to be world class and works extremely hard to maintain it. That hard work and professionalism is a fantastic example to the rest of the team, particularly the young fellows coming into the team."