Keven Mealamu extends New Zealand contract
August 29, 2013
Keven Mealamu (left) wants to play at Rugby World Cup 2015 in Britain © Getty Images
Keven Mealamu has committed to New Zealand rugby for a further year as he seeks to extend his career to Rugby World Cup 2015 . The veteran All Blacks hooker has made it a public goal to compete at the tournament, although the deal unveiled on Thursday won't yet take him that far. His contract has been extended through to the end of 2014, with provision for the New Zealand Rugby Union and Mealamu to agree to add another year.
Mealamu, 34, was New Zealand's first-choice hooker in the victorious Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign, but he faces a fight to retain his Test status. Mealamu is one of three hookers employed by Hansen this year in the three-Test sweep of France and twin Bledisloe Cup wins over Australia, but the 105-Test veteran has made just three reserve appearances while Dane Coles, 27, has made three starts and Andrew Hore, 34, has started twice. Hore is yet to sign a New Zealand contract beyond this year.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen lauded Mealamu's achievements as a player, saying the player's value as an off-field leader had increased. "His experience has been invaluable in recent times in mentoring Dane Coles and the other young hookers," Hansen said. "Having that experience available to us is hugely positive for the future, and having him re-sign will allow that to continue."
Mealamu will play for the Blues next year, in his 15th season of professional rugby. He has played a New Zealand-record 150 Super Rugby games dating back to his debut season with the Chiefs in 2000 before shifting to the Blues.
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