There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a difficult year for all the rugby stakeholders in New Zealand. From a financial point of view, New Zealand Rugby, the five Super Rugby franchises, the 23 provinces and clubs across the country have been hit hard by the global coronavirus pandemic – and that’s naturally had a flow-on effect on contract negotiations.

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Still, the NZR’s managed to lock in a number of players on new contracts that will see many of the nation’s best and brightest stay in the country for the foreseeable future.

Blues and North Island captain Patrick Tuipulotu put pen to paper in the early stages of Super Rugby Aotearoa to commit to New Zealand until the 2023 World Cup while the three other locks that the All Blacks took to the World Cup last year, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett, are all also locked in until the next competition in France.

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The midfield stocks are also looking a bit healthier than they were this time last year, with Anton Lienert-Brown and Braydon Ennor also signing new contracts this year which will see them remain in NZ until France 2023.

Factor in the long-term signings from previous seasons, such as Beauden and Jordie Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Joe Moody and Sevu Reece, and there’s a healthy contingent of last year’s World Cup semi-finalists guaranteed to be available for the next major tournament.

A number of up-and-coming stars have also committed their future to New Zealand, with Hoskins Sotutu and Mark Telea signing on until 2022.

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That being said, there are still plenty of players whose intentions for the future are not yet publically known. Perhaps they’ve not yet signed on for the future, perhaps they’ve signed on but the details haven’t been revealed, or perhaps they’ve already committed to play elsewhere.

Professional players, coaches and administrators all had to accept pay-cuts during the season, which means some of the men that have donned the silver fern in recent years may be considering lining their pockets a little bit earlier in their careers than has become custom.

Players such as Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta’avao and Vaea Fifita all still have plenty to offer rugby in New Zealand but perhaps now would be the right time to cash in on the mileage they’ve accumulated over the years?

The Chiefs propping trio of Laulala, Ta’avao and Atu Moli have all struggled with injuries this season but the Super Rugby Aotearoa cellar-dwellers will be desperately hoping they’ll have all three onboard next season to try right the ship next year. All three’s contracts are set to end at the conclusion of the current season, however.

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In the loose forwards, Fifita and fellow Hurricane Gareth Evans are in the final years of their contracts. Fifita, best known for his rampaging run against Argentina in the 2017 Rugby Championship, struggled for game time with the Hurricanes this year while Evans has been sidelined through injury.

Elsewhere around the country, Chiefs tyro Luke Jacobson will surely be close to re-signing with NZR while Dillon Hunt is said to be weighing up his options.

Heading to the backs, Crusaders Mitch Drummond, Brett Cameron and Jack Goodhue are all off-contract next season but will likely be retained.

So while the bulk of recent All Blacks are set to continue plying their trade in New Zealand next season, there are still a number of players who NZR will be fiercely negotiating with to keep the All Blacks – and Super Rugby – strong.

Departing: Matt Duffie.

Contracted until 2020: Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli, Vaea Fifita, Luke Jacobson, Gareth Evans, Dillon Hunt, Mitchell Drummond, Brett Cameron, Jack Goodhue.

Contracted until 2021: Codie Taylor, Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua, Nathan Harris, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Akira Ioane, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Bryn Hall, Ngani Laumape, David Havili, Damin McKenzie, Braydon Ennor.

Contracted until 2022: Liam Coltman, Joe Moody, Dalton Papalii, Richie Mo’unga, Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, George Bridge, Jordie Barrett.

Contracted until 2023: Tyrel Lomax, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Braydon Ennor, Beauden Barrett.

Unknown: Josh Ioane.

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