Scrumhalf Aaron Smith agrees new deal with New Zealand Rugby

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The All Blacks' most-capped scrumhalf, Aaron Smith, has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby through 2021.

Smith, who has played 82 tests, agreed to a new two-year deal in a signficant step in New Zealand's rebuilding process which will follow this year's World Cup in Japan.

"New Zealand Rugby has been working incredibly hard on the retention of our key players and, while it's inevitable that some will move on following the 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," New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said. "We know all our players have choices to make on where they play their rugby and that the global environment is challenging. But we feel we have got one of the best environments for players here."

Smith's long, flat pass has been a key part of New Zealand's attacking arsenal in recent seasons and he has formed a strong partnership with flyhalf Beauden Barrett.

His retention adds to the core of experience New Zealand will rely on after the World Cup. Captain Kieran Read, fullback Ben Smith and prop Owen Franks are among players who are quitting test rugby at the end of this season.


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