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'An easy decision': All Blacks prop decides playing future

NEWS: All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2026.

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The 13-Test prop has inked a new contract that will also see him remain with the Highlanders in Super Rugby Pacific and Southland in the NPC.

“It was an easy decision to stay in New Zealand,” said de Groot. “All I want to do is play for my country and represent my home region.”

The 24-year-old’s growth during the 2022 All Blacks season was immense. After missing selection for the July Series against Ireland, De Groot fought his way back into the squad and cemented himself as the first-choice loosehead for the remaining 10 Tests of the season.

Alongside All Blacks, Hurricanes and Tasman prop Tyrel Lomax (also re-signed until 2026), NZR has locked in two front-rowers with potential to be future leaders of the game.

“We are proud of the work Ethan has put into his career so far,” said NZR CEO Mark Robinson. “We believe in him and will continue to support his growth at all levels.”

With his sights set on the Rugby World Cup later this year, De Groot has been pushing his case with strong performances for the Highlanders, particularly with his scrummaging.

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“The club is extremely proud of Ethan’s success over the last few years,” said Highlanders CEO Roger Clark. “He’s a local lad and his achievements are an inspiration to many young players by showing what can be achieved and what is possible if you dream big and work hard.

“We are currently committing to a number of players from our region and having key players like Ethan allows us to continue to build better teams for the future.”

Highlanders coach Clarke Dermody added: “Ethan has come a long way since he first joined us. He has worked hard on many aspects of his game and conditioning.

“His consistent performances and selection for the All Blacks are testament to his dedication to improvement and the genuine talent he possesses. He has the capability over the next three years to play a lot of rugby for the All Blacks and to be a key part of the Highlanders engine room.

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“I am excited about the level to which he could take his game over the next few years. He’s a proud Southlander and his commitment for another three years to the Highlanders is certainly great news for our team and our region.”

Raised in New Zealand’s deep south, de Groot attended Southland Boys’ High School and rose through the Rugby Southland Academy. Since his debut for the Stags in 2018, he has made 17 appearances in the NPC.

“It’s great to see Ethan has committed to NZR, the Highlanders and the Stags for the next three years,” said Rugby Southland Director of Rugby Matt Saunders.

“He cares deeply for his province and has shown our aspiring All Blacks that the pathway is available directly from Southland.”

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