All Blacks and Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) through to 2021.
Savea, who made the announcement via his Instagram page on Wednesday, has committed his immediate future to New Zealand after backing out of a deal to play for French club Pau after the 2019 World Cup.
In his post about signing a new two-year deal, the 25-year-old said it was “a very tough decision” but he decided that he “couldn’t leave” because of family and close friends at home.
After Sam Cane suffered a nasty neck injury against the Springboks in October, Savea took the No 7 jersey and continued to excel as one of the All Blacks’ best performers in 2018.
It is believed that before the All Blacks’ recent northern tour, Savea had agreed in principle to join Pau after next year’s World Cup.
But the president of the Top 14 side, Bernard Pontneau, said Savea had pulled out of the deal because of pressure from NZR.
“It is for certain that he will not be coming,” Pontneau said. “It’s disappointing but it’s also the risk you take when wanting to recruit a young player.”
Pau managed to land All Blacks fullback Ben Smith, who last week confirmed he would move to France after the World Cup.
Savea’s provincial debut was with home province Wellington in 2012 and he first represented the Hurricanes in Super Rugby the following year.
He made his All Blacks debut against Wales at Eden Park in 2016 and has played in 33 tests.
His elder brother, former All Blacks winger Julian Savea, left NZR for France last year and signed for Toulon.