4 Jul 2013

Ben Smith back in black

6:09 am on 4 July 2013

The All Black utility back Ben Smith has signed on with New Zealand Rugby, the Highlanders and the Otago union for another four years.

Smith was arguably the best New Zealand player in the recent French series whitewash and the New Zealand Rugby Union says his signature is "a major deal".

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen hailed the versatile Smith, who can play wing, fullback or centre, as the "back of the series" against France, and the 27-year-old says he's looking forward to his future here, and playing his part any way he can over the next few years.

Smith joins a growing list of All Blacks who have signed new contracts recently, following last week's new deals for lock Jeremy Thrush and hooker Dane Coles, and including fellow outside backs Israel Dagg and Cory Jane, the captain Richie McCaw, playmaker Daniel Carter and props Ben Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Tony Woodcock, Owen Franks and Charlie Faumuina, hookers Hikawera Elliot and Corey Flynn, lock Luke Romano and Brodie Retallick, loose forward Victor Vito, halfbacks Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis and Aaron Smith, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, and midfielder Conrad Smith.