Five re-sign with NZRU

by staff

The New Zealand Rugby Union has re-signed five All Blacks, continuing its effort to staunch a flow of players to European clubs which usually gains pace in a World Cup year.

Prop Owen Franks, centre Richard Kahui, utility back Isaia Toeava, winger Zac Guildford and scrumhalf Andy Ellis have all agreed to continue playing in New Zealand, at both Super Rugby and international level, beyond this year.

Franks, who has played 23 Tests since his debut in 2009, has re-signed with New Zealand and the Crusaders for three years.

Ellis and his Crusaders and All Blacks teammate Guildford have signed for two years, while Kahui, who scored a try in the All Blacks' 18-5 loss to South Africa on Saturday, has signed with the Chiefs through 2013.

Toeava, who also played in the loss to the Springboks in Port Elizabeth, has extended his contracts with New Zealand and the Auckland Blues to the end of 2012.

The five join a long list of current All Blacks who have agreed to remain in New Zealand after the September 9 to October 23 World Cup.

They include captain Richie McCaw and star flyhalf Dan Carter, hookers Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore, props Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks and Wyatt Crockett, lock Ali Williams and centres Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said the latest signings were fantastic news for New Zealand rugby.

"We always knew that it was critical to retain as many All Blacks as possible post-Rugby World Cup 2011 to ensure continuity for both the franchises and the national team," he said.

"It's encouraging to see that the All Blacks jersey means so much to our top echelon of players. We have worked very hard to achieve this result and it's incredibly pleasing to have all of these form players on board next year."