Staying put easy call for Coltman

Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman laces up his boot ahead of a training session at Logan Park yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman laces up his boot ahead of a training session at Logan Park yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Liam Coltman is a smiler.

He beamed his way through yesterday's press conference.

His joy was obvious even under that superb beard which hides most of his face.

And why not - the All Black and Highlanders hooker had plenty to be happy about.

The 29-year-old has re-signed with the franchise and New Zealand Rugby through until 2022.

No doubt the three-year agreement is a good deal.

The experienced rake probably could have got more money overseas. But it did not sound like he was that open to moving away from his beloved Dunedin.

''I've got a young family, my partner is from down here ... so we just decided it was best for us,'' he said.

''And I love the Landers and love playing for Otago. Love Dunedin - love getting out hunting and fishing. It was an easy decision.''

He made the call ''a couple of weeks ago''.

''I had a look [at other options], there is no doubt about that. But at the end of the day I just decided here was the best option for me.''

Coltman is the second All Black to re-commit to the Highlanders and New Zealand Rugby recently.

All Black halfback Aaron Smith confirmed a two-year deal earlier this month.

It is a boost for the franchise which will lose the services of All Blacks Ben Smith and Jackson Hemopo at the end of the season.

Coltman has made 92 appearances for the Highlanders since his debut in 2013.

He was the back-up to All Black Andrew Hore in his rookie year. But the reliable front rower got consistent game time in 2014 and was a key member of the championship-winning 2015 side.

He debuted for the All Blacks in 2016 and has played four tests.

Coltman hails from New Plymouth and played alongside fellow All Black Beauden Barrett at secondary school.

But he moved to Dunedin to study and made his debut for Otago in 2010. He also played for New Zealand under-20 at the Junior World Cup that same year.

Dunedin is very much home now. His wife Aleisha is from Dunedin and their daughters, Tilly (18 months) and Ruby (2 months), were born here.

''I'm here for the rest of my life, I'm pretty sure.''

The other major attraction is a spot in the All Black World Cup squad. He was part of the All Blacks' foundation day training camp earlier this week.

''It is just awesome to be in the picture. I'll keep trucking along and look forward to this weekend to be honest and hopefully put out a good performance against the Blues.''

All Blacks Steve Hansen is thrilled Coltman has decided to stay in New Zealand.

''Colty is the ultimate team man and has been patient in our environment and made the most of his opportunities,'' Hansen said.

''He puts in a lot of hard work around the team and is always looking to improve as a footy player. We're glad he'll be doing that in New Zealand for the next few years.''


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