In a major coup for New Zealand Rugby (NZR), the All Blacks most capped number nine and second most capped Highlanders player, halfback Aaron Smith, has put pen to paper – and signed a new two-year deal with NZR and his Super Rugby side.
30-year-old Smith made his All Blacks debut in 2012 and has been a mainstay in the national side ever since, playing 82 Tests to date. He made his Highlanders debut in 2011 and has pulled on the southern team’s Super jersey 129 times.
Smith said he was excited to confirm that his future would be in New Zealand.
“From my earliest playing days, my focus has always been about being passionate about the teams I play for and I’ve always enjoyed giving 100 percent to the teams I represent,” Smith said.
“I love representing the Highlanders and the All Blacks and playing my rugby in New Zealand gives me the chance to continue to do that.
“I’m grateful to NZ Rugby and the Highlanders organisation for all the support they’ve given me over my career and for the opportunities they have provided for myself and Teagan, going forward.”
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said:
“We’re delighted to have re-signed Aaron through to 2021. 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.
“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 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.
“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, with outstanding teams and coaches, and so we congratulate Aaron on his decision.”
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen added: “Nuggy has been such an outstanding player for us over many years and deserves every accolade he gets.
“He’s a passionate team man, a leader in our team and gives his all to the group. He works incredibly hard on his game and has been incredibly consistent since first coming into the All Blacks. The speed of his delivery from the base of the scrum and ruck is a key point of difference and means we can play the game at real pace, which has suited our game.
“It’s fantastic news that he has committed himself to both New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders and we congratulate him on his decision. It’s also timely to congratulate him and his partner Teagan on their recent engagement and the pending birth of their first child.”
Pulse Energy Highlanders Head Coach Aaron Mauger is delighted that Smith has recommitted to the Highlanders for two more years.
“Clearly he has been one of our most influential players, and on the field he’s obviously a big part of the way we like to play the game, so to have the certainty of his services going forward means a great deal to us.’
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark is also excited to get Smith’s signature: “Aaron is one of those once-in-a-generation players who has influenced the way halfbacks play the modern game. His presence over the next few seasons means our next generation of Highlanders will greatly benefit from his experience and ability, which for our organisation is priceless.”
Smith joins a number of established All Blacks who have signed with New Zealand Rugby post 2019, including Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie and Rieko Ioane, with negotiations progressing with a number of other key players.
In other news, Ryan Crotty confirmed he would be leaving NZ Rugby post RWC. Crotty joins a number of All Blacks leaving post RWC. Other high-profile stars set to depart include Kieran Read (Toyota Verblitz), Owen Franks (Northampton), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Toulon), Jordan Taufua (Leicester Tigers), Matt Proctor (Northampton) and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (Wasps).
Australia A confirm side to face Japan XV
Australia A coach Jason Gilmore has named an imposing side as they prepare to kick-off a three-match series against a Japan XV on October 1 in Tokyo.
Scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan once again will lead the side as they look to build from their second-place finish in the Pacific Nations Cup in July.
Lonergan is joined in the halves by Waratahs flyhalf Ben Donaldson, eager to continue his breakout season, with Gilmore confirming Tane Edmed will likely get a shot in the second Test.
Suliasi Vunivalu will get his chance to shine, selected on the wing in an all-Reds back-three as he partners Filipo Daugunu and Jock Campbell.
Gilmore has kept a relatively settled front-row from their last match against Tonga, with Brumbies hooker Lachlan Lonergan coming in to partner Matt Gibbon and Tom Robertson.
Wallabies Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville form an imposing second-row, with Ned Hanigan making his return from injury with Ollie Callan and Langi Gleeson in the back row.
Force centre Bayley Kuenzle will make his first appearance in the Australia A side, partnering Brumby Hudson Creighton.
Exciting Brumbies hooker Billy Pollard headlines the replacements off the bench alongside Archer Holz and Harry Hoopert.
Rebels back-rower Brad Wilkin has been rewarded for a strong season with selection on the bench, with Ryan Smith rounding out the forwards’ reserve.
He is joined by club teammate James Tuttle as well as Reds back Isaac Henry and Mark Nawaqanitawase, who returns from a brief stint with the Sevens.
Gilmore also confirmed Tom Banks will be likely used in some capacity in the second Test, still recovering from a broken arm.
Every game of the Australia A tour of Japan will be streamed live and available on demand on Stan Sport.
Australia A team to play Japan at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday 1 October, 7:00pm JST/8:00pm AEST
1. Matt Gibbon (Melbourne Rebels)
2. Lachlan Lonergan (ACT Brumbies)
3. Tom Robertson (Western Force)
4. Nick Frost (ACT Brumbies)
5. Cadeyrn Neville (ACT Brumbies)
6. Ned Hanigan (NSW Waratahs)
7. Ollie Callan (Western Force)
8. Langi Gleeson (NSW Waratahs)
9. Ryan Lonergan (c) (ACT Brumbies)
10. Ben Donaldson (NSW Waratahs)
11. Filipo Daugunu (Queensland Reds)
12. Bayley Kuenzle (Western Force)
13. Hudson Creighton (ACT Brumbies)
14. Suliasi Vunivalu (Queensland Reds)
15. Jock Campbell (Queensland Reds)
16. Billy Pollard (ACT Brumbies)
17. Harry Hoopert (Queensland Reds)
18. Archer Holz (NSW Waratahs)
19. Ryan Smith (Queensland Reds)
20. Brad Wilkin (Melbourne Rebels)
21. James Tuttle (Melbourne Rebels)
22. Isaac Henry (Queensland Reds)
23. Mark Nawaqanitawase (NSW Waratahs)
Referee Appointments Made For November Internationals
The match day officials for Ireland’s international fixtures in November have been announced by World Rugby and the IRFU High Performance Referees will have a busy month on international duty.
For our teams in green, the RFU’s Adam Leal will take charge of the game between Ireland ‘A’ and the All Blacks XV at the RDS on Friday, 4th November. The following day, Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli has the whistle for the game between Ireland and World Champions South Africa at Aviva Stadium.
South African Jaco Peyper is in charge of Ireland v Fiji and New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe is the man in the middle for Ireland’s final game of the Autumn Nations Series against Australia.
IRFU referee Andrew Brace takes charge of two games during this international window – England v Argentina and France v Japan. Joy Neville, who will have just returned from the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, is in the TMO hot seat for the France game against the Brave Blossoms.
Frank Murphy in on duty for Scotland against New Zealand at Murrayfield and Chris Busby has the whistle for the French Barbarians against Fiji in Lille. Both Chris Busby and Eoghan Cross are on duty in Dubai for the World Cup Final Qualifier tournament. Chris is refereeing the game between Portugal and Hong Kong with Eoghan in the AR role for that game and the clash between the USA and Kenya.
Friday 4th November, 2022
IRELAND A v All Blacks XV
REF: Adam Leal (RFU), ARs: Luc Ramos (FFR), Benoit Rousselet (FFR)
Saturday 5th November, 2022
IRELAND v South Africa
REF: Nika Amashukeli (GRU), ARs: Mathieu Raynal (FFR), Andrea Piardi (FIR)
Saturday 12th November, 2022
IRELAND v Fiji
REF: Jaco Peyper (SARU), ARs: Tual Trainini (FFR), Jordan Way (RA)
Saturday 19th November, 2022
IRELAND v Australia
REF: Ben O’Keeffe (NZRU), ARs: James Doleman (NZRU), Tual Trainini (FFR)
IRFU High Performance Referee Appointment
England v Argentina
REF: Andrew Brace (IRFU), ARs: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Pierre Brousset (FFR)
USA v Kenya
REF: Tual Trainini (FFR), ARs: Damian Schneider (UAR), Eoghan Cross (IRFU)
Portugal v Hong Kong
REF: Chris Busby (IRFU), ARs: Damian Schneider (UAR), Eoghan Cross (IRFU)
Scotland v New Zealand
REF: Frank Murphy (IRFU), ARs: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Chris Busby (IRFU)
Romania v Samoa
REF: Mathieu Raynal (FFR), ARs: Eoghan Cross (IRFU), Shota Tevadze (IRFU)
French Barbarians v Fiji
REF: Chris Busby (IRFU), ARs: Ben Blain (SARU), Adrien Marbot (FFR)
France v Japan
REF: Andrew Brace (IRFU), ARs: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Christophe Ridley (RFU)
TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)
England v South Africa
REF: Angus Gardner (RA), ARs: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Pierre Brousset (FFR)
Wales v Australia
REF: Matthew Carley (RFU), ARs: Luke Pearce (RFU), Chris Busby (IRFU)
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Match officials announced for November Internationals
South Africa’s Jaco Peyper has been appointed as referee for two Tests in the traditional November international window after he was given a break during the recently-concluded Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
World Rugby also announced on Monday the names of the match officials for the Springboks’ six matches on their tour of Europe, which includes four Tests and two midweek games.
Peyper will be the man in the middle when France host Australia in Paris on 5 November, and again a week later when Ireland face Fiji in Dublin on 12 November, which will be his 61st Test as referee.
AJ Jacobs has been given assistant referee duties in four Tests over two weekends in Dubai, when Hong Kong, Kenya, USA and Portugal square off in the Final Qualification Tournament for Rugby World Cup 2023 over three match-days consisting of six clashes in total.
Marius Jonker and Marius van der Westhuizen have been appointed as Television Match Officials in five Tests next month.
The referees for the Springboks’ four Tests are Nika Amashukeli from Georgia (against Ireland in Dublin on 5 November), Wayne Barnes of England (against France in Marseille on 12 November), Mike Adamson of Scotland (against Italy in Genoa on 19 November) and Angus Gardner of Australia (against England in London on 26 November).
The Test in Marseilles will mark a special occasion for Barnes, who is back on the international circuit after also getting a break during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, as it will be his 101st as referee, a new record for match officials.
Karl Dickson of England will referee the midweek match against Munster in Cork on 10 November, and a week later, on 17 November, Adam Jones of Wales will carry the whistle in the clash against the Bristol Bears in Bristol.
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