New Zealand
All Blacks forward Luatua inks new deal
April 8, 2015
Steven Luatua re-signing stems the recent flow of players to Europe © Getty Images
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All Blacks and Blues loose forward Steven Luatua has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby for two more years through to the end of the 2017. The flanker's move follows the decision of two other young Blues' Test players - backs Charles Piutau and Francis Saili - to head overseas.

Luatua, 23, has 14 caps, having made his All Blacks debut against France in June 2013. NZR general manager of rugby Neil Sorensen described the re-signing of Luatua as tremendous news.

"He is still a young player, but he has already shown he has the skills and physical presence to succeed at the highest level," he said. "We welcome his on-going contribution to our game over the next few years."

Last week, Piutau, 23, announced he would be heading to Ulster in mid-2016. On Tuesday, Saili, 24, said he would be off to Munster later this year. ESPN columnist Craig Dowd had some sage advice for both players, the former All Blacks prop using his weekly column to advise the duo a return to the All Blacks will prove extremely difficult.

Meanwhile, under-fire Blues coach Sir John Kirwan welcomed news of Luatua's extension, saying the back-rower had become a key figure at the Auckland-based franchise.

"Steven is a special player who matches his extraordinary skills with great character as a person, a physical presence and intelligence," Kirwan said. "He has quickly become a key member of our leadership group and his maturity as a rugby player and a person definitely defies his years."

© AAP

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