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Whitelock signs with NZ Rugby until 2020

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/04/2017

Double World Cup winner Sam Whitelock has added three more seasons to his contract with New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders.

The durable lock joins Ben Smith in signing a deal through to 2020, a year beyond the next World Cup in Japan.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says having Whitelock's services locked in place is a major boost for the national side.

He was a key member of the All Blacks' leadership group, and formed one of the best locking partnerships in world rugby alongside Brodie Retallick.

"Having him secured until 2020 is massive," Hansen told media at Crusaders training on Thursday.

"He slips under the radar a bit, but his performances are very, very consistent and very, very high.

"He's highly skilled - not only can he do his basic stuff in the lineout and scrum and breakdown, but he's a good ball carrier, and a good distributor.

"He's a pretty unique player."

Whitelock, 28, says he didn't wait long to put pen to paper when his contract came up for renewal.

"When I considered whether my immediate playing future was here in New Zealand and Christchurch, I didn't need to look far for the answer," Whitelock said.

"My wife Hannah and I have recently welcomed a new addition to our family, I am still genuinely excited to be playing rugby for these teams, and I feel like there is still plenty more to achieve."

Whitelock is New Zealand's most capped lock, with 84 Tests, having formed a formidable combination with Retallick in recent seasons.

He is also a Super Rugby centurion and is captain this season of the Crusaders, who have made an unbeaten start to their campaign.

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