Trio re-sign with NZRU
February 26, 2009
The Crusaders' Andy Ellis in action during this year's Super 14 clash with the Chiefs © Getty Images
Three of New Zealand rugby's star players have re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union.
Chiefs scrum-half Brendon Leonard, Crusaders scrum-half Andy Ellis and his Crusaders team mate Stephen Brett have all re-signed with the NZRU through to the end of 2011.
"We are delighted to have agreed terms with these three young players. They are incredible rugby talents, key players in their respective Rebel Sport Super 14 sides and other teams, and look set to be leading players on the world stage for many years to come, " NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said.
The announcement of the re-signing comes as a further boost for New Zealand rugby, with a number of other leading players having committed to the NZRU through to 2011, including Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Andrew Hore, Richard Kahui and John Afoa.
The 23-year-old Leonard was first selected for the All Blacks in 2007 and has played nine Tests in the black jersey. He has played 23 matches for the Chiefs since making his debut in 2007 and 25 games for his Waikato province since his 2005 debut. He has returned to form in 2009 after a knee injury cut short his season last year.
Ellis, who turned 25 last week, was first selected for the All Blacks in 2006 after just over a year on the New Zealand first-class rugby scene, and has played 11 Tests. He has played close to 40 Super 14 matches for the Crusaders and 30 for Canterbury and, like Leonard, starts the 2009 season, following an injury-plagued 2008.
The 23-year-old Stephen Brett made his Super 14 debut in 2005 and has more than 25 caps for the Crusaders and has scored more than 100 points for the side. He made his provincial debut as a 19-year-old in 2005 and has had 31 appearances for Canterbury.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action