Inspirational loose forward Jerome Kaino has committed himself for the next three years to New Zealand Rugby, the Blues and Auckland Rugby. Kaino on Tuesday announced he has re-signed to play his rugby in New Zealand until 2018. It’s a major announcement for New Zealand Rugby, with Kaino the first current All Black to commit through to 2018.
The news is also a significant fillip for the Blues following the announcement earlier this year that fellow All Black Charlie Faumuina has re-signed through to the end of 2017. Kaino, 31, has been a powerhouse loose forward on the international and Super Rugby stage for many years. He was New Zealand Rugby’s Player of the Year and nominee for World Rugby Player in 2011 and played in every game of the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup victory that year.
Kaino played two seasons in Japan before returning to play for the Blues last year and regained his place in the All Blacks. The 56-Test veteran has assumed the role of captain of the Blues this year. He played his 100th game for the club this month and has also played more than 50 games for Auckland.
Kaino said the key to his re-signing was that he and his family wanted to remain settled at home, close to friends and family, while he is also excited by the prospects of this year’s Rugby World Cup and the Lions Tour in 2017. Kaino said: ‘Having been overseas and experienced that, home does have a lot of positives. On the rugby front, I remain very committed to the Blues. I know our fans are doing it tough but I believe a lot of good things have been put in place here and we will see the benefits in the next year or two. I am also driven to be part of the All Blacks again – there’s no greater honour than to wear the black jersey. The over-riding reason though is my family. They enjoy being home close to their friends and family and with them happy, then I am happy to focus on being the best rugby player that I can be.’ New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said: ‘This is a huge announcement for us. Jerome is one of our leading players and the first to re-sign through to 2018. He joins a core group of key players who have re-signed with New Zealand beyond this year’s Rugby World Cup. While we will see players depart our shores, we are buoyed by the news which demonstrates that the rugby environment we provide here in New Zealand remains stimulating and attractive to our top players.’
Current All Blacks who have re-signed along with Kaino and Faumuina beyond this year include Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith, Steven Luatua and Malakai Fekitoa (2017) and Dane Coles, Sonny Bill Williams, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Luke Romano, TJ Perenara, Dominic Bird and Patrick Tuipulotu (2016). Blues Head Coach Sir John Kirwan added: ‘Jerome brings everything you want in a captain – leadership on the field, leadership off the field. He is also an “x factor” player. As a team we want to be resilient and relentless and Jerome is that sort of player. To know that he will be at the Blues for three more years is invaluable to this organisation, because they are a young group who will benefit greatly from his leadership on and off the field.’