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Why Anton Lienert-Brown ‘wasn’t ready’ to leave New Zealand Rugby

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

All Black Anton Lienert-Brown is a competitor, and that’s why the veteran centre decided to fend off overseas interest by re-signing with New Zealand Rugby.

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Along with Crusaders flanker Ethan Blackadder, NZR confirmed on Tuesday that Lienert-Brown has decided to remain in New Zealand beyond this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

Lienert-Brown has inked a new deal with NZR that will keep him in Aotearoa until the end of 2026. The 60-Test All Black will continue to play for the Chiefs, and is aligned with Waikato in the NPC.

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At this best, Lienert-Brown was certainly deserving of world-class status with the All Blacks.

The now 28-year-old was one of the best defensive centres in the game – and Lienert-Brown will continue to play an important role at Test level for the years to come.

But he’ll have his work cut out for him. There’s plenty of depth in the All Blacks’ midfield.

While Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane are potentially the favourites to start in the midfield, Lienert-Brown can add plenty of value off the bench – or as a backup option outside the matchday 23.

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Other options for the All Blacks, both now and in the years to come, include the likes of Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Braydon Ennor and Leicester Fainga’anuku.

But again, Lienert-Brown isn’t shying away from the challenge.

“As someone that loves competing, I know it’s a hot battle for that position,” Lienert-Brown told Newshub.

“I’m hungry to give it my best crack. I totally respect all the players fighting for that jersey.

“All I can do is give it my all.”

Throughout this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign, there’s been plenty of talk and speculation about the allure of All Blacks’ heading overseas to chase lucrative deals.

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Having made his mark at all levels of the sport in New Zealand, Lienert-Brown could’ve rode into the sunset with a smile on his face – embarking on a new challenge overseas.

But in his own words, the All Black “wasn’t ready.”

“My priority was to stay here in New Zealand. I’m still 28 and I think I’m young enough to give it a good crack,” he added.

“You’re competing with some of the best players in the world here in New Zealand.

“I know overseas there’s great players as well, but I love a challenge.

“But I wasn’t ready to go and take the money, I want to still compete here – that’s’ what I love doing.”

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