Steve Tew, Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock announce re-signingTwo key members of the Crusaders and All Blacks forward pack, number eight Kieran Read and lock Samuel Whitelock, have re–signed with both teams through until the end of the 2017 season.

The deal was announced today by New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew at Read’s University of Canterbury Rugby Club (UCRFC) in Christchurch.

“This is a significant re–signing for New Zealand Rugby with the tenure of the players’ contracts covering two major rugby events – the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand in 2017. Kieran and Sam have been outstanding in recent years and we are delighted to have them recommit to New Zealand. For them to commit to New Zealand for such a long time I think is also a credit to the environment that both the All Blacks and Crusaders have created which makes players want to stay,” Tew said.

27–year–old Read was named Man of the Match in the epic Investec Rugby Championship–winning 38–27 Test win over South Africa in Johannesburg last weekend, a standout performance in what has been an imposing season for the number eight.

“The All Blacks and Crusaders have some exciting things coming up over the next few years and I’m really looking forward to being part of that. I love playing for both teams. The time is right to commit to New Zealand long–term, doing the right thing for my family played a big part and I’m incredibly happy with the decision.

"Obviously, in the long–term for the All Blacks there is the Rugby World Cup coming up in 2015 but we still have a lot to achieve in the short–term starting with the Test against Australia next weekend, the All Blacks’ end of year tour to Japan and Europe and then next year’s Investec Super Rugby campaign,” said Read.

At just 25 years of age, lock Samuel Whitelock has already amassed 47 Test caps since making his debut in 2010 and quickly cemented his place as one of the starting locks in the All Blacks and Crusaders.

“Playing for both teams is a dream come true for me and I am really enjoying my rugby at the moment. I feel I am constantly learning and developing my game at the highest level and knowing that I will continue to do that in New Zealand over the next four years, playing alongside my mates, is an awesome feeling. There are some exciting times coming up for both teams,” Whitelock said.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “The fact that two world–class players in Kieran and Sam have re–signed for four more years is a huge positive for the All Blacks. Not only are they part of the current success of the team, but it means we have a nucleus of experienced players to take the team into the future beyond 2015, which is fantastic. It’s also great news for All Blacks and Crusaders fans, knowing that both players have committed to New Zealand rugby in the long–term.”

Sam Whitelock and Kieran Read, committed to the CrusadersCrusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder added: “These are undoubtedly two of the best players in world rugby at the moment. More than that though, they are both inspirational, committed team men who bring so much to the Crusaders environment.

“In today’s competitive environment, signing to a team for this length of time is rare. We are honoured and excited that ‘Reado’ and Sam have chosen to stay with the Crusaders until at least 2017.”