Kiwis hold onto their ‘young guns’

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) may be set to lose a large chunk of their most experienced and prized assets between now and the World Cup towards the end of the year, but they are counteracting that by holding on to some of their most promising young players.

The NZRU announced on Tuesday that some of the new stars of the 2007 Super 14 have extended their contracts with New Zealand rugby beyond 2007.

Top of that list is 23-year-old Chiefs loose forward and former New Zealand Sevens captain Liam Messam, who has re-signed with the NZRU until the end of 2011.

Joining him is Chiefs utility front row forward Aled de Malmanche, Hurricanes utility back Cory Jane and scrum-half Alby Mathewson, Crusaders hooker Ti’i Paulo and loose forward Kieran Read, as well as Blues wing Rudi Wulf.

These six players have re-signed with the NZRU until the end of 2009.

NZRU deputy chief executive Steve Tew said while there had been widespread discussion about the impending departures of a number of senior All Blacks, it was important to note that young and talented players were coming through the ranks.

“These young players have already offered much to New Zealand rugby and their decision to continue their careers here is a good one for New Zealand rugby. These signings are a reflection of our ongoing work to develop and retain players in New Zealand,” Tew said.

Six of the seven players have represented New Zealand at age grade level or played for a national team.

Liam Messam captained New Zealand to the Final of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2005 and in 2006 played a leading role in the team’s gold medal-winning performance at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The 24-year-old Jane was a member of the New Zealand Sevens team that won the Commonwealth Games last year and the New Zealand Maori team that won the 2006 Churchill Cup tournament in Canada.

Mathewson and Read represented New Zealand at the 2006 Under-21 World Championship in France.

The 24-year-old Paulo captained New Zealand Under-19 to World Championship glory in Italy in 2002 and two years later he scored a try in the 2004 Under-21 World Championship Final in Scotland, which New Zealand won against Ireland.

The 23-year-old Wulf has represented New Zealand at Under-19 and Under-21 level, and was a member of the New Zealand team that made the Final of the 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong.


365 Digital

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