All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown said there was a sense of unfinished business when he put pen to paper on a deal that will keep him with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) until the end of 2026.
The 60-Test international has also recommitted to the Gallagher Chiefs in DHL Super Rugby Pacific while being aligned with Waikato Rugby in the Bunnings Warehouse NPC.
“The constant challenge to better myself by competing against elite players was something I thought about a lot when making this decision,” said Lienert-Brown. “I feel like I’ve still got something to prove to myself.
“I’m excited by what we are building at the Chiefs and very proud to represent the Waikato region. That, along with the love I have for the black jersey, is what motivates me to keep giving my all in New Zealand.”
Since making his international debut against Australia in 2016, the 28-year-old from Christchurch has been a reliable performer for the All Blacks over the last seven seasons. His 60 appearances make him the fourth most-capped midfielder in the team’s history behind Tana Umaga (74), Conrad Smith (94) and Ma’a Nonu (103).
“To have Anton recommit to the All Blacks is fantastic. His experience and contribution is of the highest quality,” said All Blacks coach Ian Foster.
New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson added: “Anton is well-respected across rugby. We have watched him develop into a leader and can’t wait to see where he is able to take his game in the next few years.”
Gallagher Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan was also quick to heap praise on Lienert-Brown, who has come a long way since he debuted in Super Rugby as an 18-year-old against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld. Having recently become the 10th player to notch 100 games for the club, Lienert-Brown is a key member of the Chiefs family.
"As a recent centurion, Anton's contribution to the club speaks for itself and we are delighted he has committed for the next three years,” McMillan said.
“Hard working, passionate and competitor accurately describe Anton's on-field qualities. Off the field he is a great team man who cares deeply about his team-mates, family and our supporters. The generosity of his time is admired by us all.”
Waikato Rugby CEO Carl Moon welcomed the news that Lienert-Brown had recommitted to the province he first represented in 2014: “We are thrilled to announce that Anton Lienert-Brown has recommitted to Waikato Rugby. He is an exceptional talent on the field and a true leader off the field.
“Anton’s commitment to our team is a testament to his dedication to rugby and his passion for this province. We look forward to seeing him to continue to excel and achieve great success with us, the Gallagher Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby in the years to come.”