All Blacks lock in Blues captain

New Zealand Rugby has secured the key signature of All Blacks lock and Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu until the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The news follows the successful opening weekend of Vodacom Super Rugby Aotearoa, during which the Blues claimed a 30-20 victory over the Hurricanes at a sold-out Eden Park.

Tuipulotu has played 30 Tests for the All Blacks and 74 matches for the Blues since making his franchise and international debut in 2014. The 27-year-old has since developed into a formidable, physical lock and made the All Blacks 2019 World Cup squad for five appearances during the tournament.

‘I am pleased to continue to play for New Zealand Rugby and the Blues until 2023 and excited about the future,’ said Tuopulotu.

‘During the lockdown I realised more than ever how much I love this game and love playing for the Blues. We are beginning to develop into a really good side and it is an honour to lead them.

‘I am still young and learning all the time, and I want to establish myself as an international player.’

ALSO READ: All hail the return of live rugby

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said it was ‘fantastic news’ that Tuipulotu had decided to extend his stay in New Zealand.

‘Patrick has grown considerably over the last few years, both on the field as a player and off field with his captaincy and leadership,’ Foster said.

‘The fact that he has re-signed through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup is a sign of not only NZ Rugby’s commitment to him, but also Patty’s desire to achieve his own goals in New Zealand over the next few years.

‘We congratulate him on making that commitment.’

ALSO READ: Aotearoa talking points (Round 1)

Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images/Getty Images