Anton Lienert-Brown ready to take game to next level

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Now that he was playing again, Lienert-Brown said after enduring a frustrating year of injury, he wanted to go out on his terms and see how good he could be.

"I'm excited to be sticking around and playing for a franchise I love and a provincial team I love and striving to wear that black jersey.

"A strength of mine is my drive, and I've had a lot of time to think about things on the couch. I love playing rugby, and here in New Zealand, I'm as hungry as ever to see how good I can be.

Going overseas had not been a factor in his decision. His priority was to stay in New Zealand.

"I'm 28 and young enough to give it a good crack. You're competing with some of the best players in the world in New Zealand. I know overseas there're great players as well, but I love the challenge, and I wasn't ready to go and take the money. I want to compete here.

"I know it's a hot battle for that position [midfield] and like I said, I'm hungry to give it my best crack. I totally respect all the players fighting for that jersey."

He has signed until 2026, a decision his agent told him to take. He is interested in making the next World Cup, but he would have time within his contract period to see where he was in his game.

Making this year's World Cup in France was a goal, and he knew he had to be at his to challenge for a place.

While his coach at New Zealand Under-20s level, Scott Robertson, would be taking over the All Blacks next year, Lienert-Brown said he didn't think their earlier relationship would be a factor in his selection chances.

That came down to how you were playing, he said.


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