RugbyU: Ben Smith signs All Blacks deal

In-form New Zealand back Ben Smith has signed a deal that will keep him with the All Blacks until 2017, the New Zealand Rugby Union said Thursday.

Smith was one of the standout players in the All Blacks' recent 3-0 series whitewash over France and the NZRU said retaining his services was a major coup.

The versatile 27-year-old plays fullback for his Otago Highlanders Super 15 team but has been used on the wing in his 15 Test appearances. He can also play centre.

"I look forward to playing my part any way I can over the next few years," he said.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said he was delighted Smith had agreed to a new contract, which will make him available for the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup defence in England in 2015.

"He is a true professional, is constantly learning and works incredibly hard on developing his game and it has paid dividends," Hansen said.

ns/bp/jw