All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith re-signs with New Zealand until 2021
Ryan Crotty to join Japanese club Kubota Spears after the World Cup
Last Updated: 01/04/19 8:04am
All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby for the next two years, although team-mate Ryan Crotty has joined the exodus of senior players and will move to Japan after the World Cup.
Smith's signature is a boost for the All Blacks with several players like full-back Ben Smith, captain Kieran Read and tighthead prop Owen Franks all signing with offshore clubs at the conclusion of the World Cup.
Smith, 30, has also signed with his Super Rugby team the Otago Highlanders until 2021 and forms part of a core group of senior players that will see the All Blacks into the next World Cup cycle.
"We're delighted to have re-signed Aaron through to 2021," said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.
"He's a proven world-class player, the most capped All Blacks halfback ever and an incredibly important member of the All Blacks and Highlanders."
Crotty confirmed on Monday he will join Japanese club Kubota Spears after the World Cup.
"I know I'll look back at the end of my career in New Zealand with really fond memories of the experiences I've had and what I've achieved alongside my good mates," the 30-year-old said.
"For now my focus is enjoying the season ahead and helping to lead this Crusaders side one last time in 2019."
Crotty has played 44 Tests for the All Blacks since his debut in 2013.
However, he has been hampered by a number of injuries that have curtailed his career, with concerns over a series of concussions he had last year.
Smith, meanwhile, has become the latest player to commit his future to the All Blacks, following the likes of Dane Coles, Damian McKenzie and Rieko Ioane.
"New Zealand Rugby has been working incredibly hard on the retention of our key players," Tew added.
"While it's inevitable that some will move on following the Rugby World Cup, we'll still have a core of experience in the All Blacks post 2019, and Aaron will be a key part of that group."