Halfback Aaron Smith to stick with Highlanders
All Black halfback Aaron Smith has confirmed he'll be a Highlander again next season.
Smith was off contract with the NZRU and the Highlanders at the end of the season after four years with the southern franchise, but said this afternoon that he planned to stay in Dunedin.
''It's pretty much sorted, it's just sorting out the length of [the contract] really. This is my home and it's going to be my home for the next few years,'' Smith said.
''I've tried to be loyal. These guys gave me my shot and I was able to live out my dream of becoming an All Black here. I owe them a lot for that and I've got to be pretty honest about the coaches too - Jamie [Joseph] has helped me a lot and then Brownie [Tony Brown] has helped my game go to another level this year. It buzzes me out a bit about how I've been going, and I put a lot of that down to Brownie.''
Smith the oppportunity to play regularly under the roof at the Forsyth Barr Stadium was also a major factor.
''This stadium has helped me. I play half my games under a roof with a dry ball. That can be bad for you, but it suits me and it suits us as the Highlanders.''
Smith, who has now played 57 games for the Highlanders since shifting from Palmerston North for the 2011 season, hopes he will eventually be claimed as a southern man by the local rugby fraternity.
''I love it down here. I love being a Highlander and intend to be for a few years.''
- The Southland Times