Rona, 22, was called from Taranaki to Hamilton to take up a short-term 30-training-day role with the Chiefs during their pre-season. But in a classic example of taking the bull by the horns, he performed so well when given his chance that he now has a career ahead in DHL Super Rugby Pacific.
Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan said he had his eye on Rona for some time.
"We are pleased to have Daniel commit to the Chiefs. He has been on our radar since he debuted for Taranaki, and there's been something about him that we have always liked."
Rona stands to benefit by forming a solid midfield for the side with All-Black Anton Lienert-Brown, also committed until the end of 2026. Bailyn Sullivan should also be on the scene after recovering from his long-term injury.
McMillan said when Rona joined the squad during the pre-season, he fitted in well, worked hard and took his chances.
"As we look to the future, securing talent like Daniel is key to continuously improving our squad while still having a good balance of fresh blood and experience.
Rona had two appearances off the bench for the Chiefs but flourished when making five starts and scoring three tries, with a brace in Dunedin against the Highlanders.
"I have loved my time so far this year, and I'm excited to be able to sign on for the next three seasons."
He said it had been his dream to play professionally, but he was still getting used to the idea it had happened.
Playing his debut was a surprise when he was named, and it was a reward for an attitude of continuing to work hard, put his head down and keep on grinding. His advice to other young aspirants for Super Rugby goals – was to keep grinding.
"I'm just lucky enough that it has paid off," he said.