New Zealand Rugby, the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby have secured the key signature of Samuel Whitelock.
The All Blacks most capped lock and Crusaders captain has extended his contract through to 2020.
Whitelock said it was an easy to make the decision to stay in the country.
“My wife Hannah and I have recently welcomed a new addition to our family, I am still genuinely excited to be playing rugby for these teams, and I feel like there is still plenty more to achieve,” said Whitelock.
“There is more than enough to motivate me to keep playing and performing for these teams, so I am thrilled and honoured to have re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, the BNZ Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby through to 2020,” Whitelock added.
Whitelock, 28, has played 84 tests for the All Blacks since making his debut back in 2010 against Ireland in New Plymouth.
He made an immediate impact, scoring two tries in that game.
He became the most capped lock in his 80th test against Argentina last year, overtaking Ian Jones, and is currently the 11th most capped All Black of all time.
The son of former Junior All Black, Braeden Whitelock, he is one of four Whitelock brothers to have represented Canterbury and the Crusaders.
His cousin Ben Funnell is also a current member of both squads.
The Whitelock brothers and Funnell all moved south from Palmerston North to attend university in Canterbury and went on to play for the Canterbury provincial side. Sam first appeared for Canterbury in 2008.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said having Whitelock’s services for the next few years was a major boost for the national side.
“On behalf of New Zealand Rugby, as well as all New Zealand rugby fans, I want to congratulate Sam and his wife Hannah on his decision. He’s a world-class lock and together with Brodie Retallick forms one of the best international locking partnerships in world rugby at present,” said Hansen.
Retaining Whitelock’s formidable skillset and leadership qualities for the immediate future would also be invaluable for the BNZ Crusaders, according to Head Coach Scott Robertson.
“Sam is an incredibly important member of this team and has been an inspiration as our captain this season. He leads through his actions and has huge mana amongst the team. The example he sets both on and off the field is exemplary, so we are stoked that we will continue to have his positive influence in our environment,” said Robertson.
Whitelock joins All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith in re-signing through to 2020, while Owen Franks, Israel Dagg, Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith, Julian Savea, Dane Coles, Sonny Bill Williams, Joe Moody, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Squire and Liam Coltman have all inked deals through to 2019.