Rugby: All Blacks' Aaron Smith extends stay with NZ Rugby

Star All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has re-signed with NZ Rugby.

The 32-year-old will remain in New Zealand through until the end of 2023, continuing with the Highlanders and likely featuring as a key component in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup campaign in France.

"The decision to stay is based on a number of things, but I'm very keen to see the Highlanders do well," says Smith. "We have a good environment here and some great, young players, so I think the next few years will be exciting for us and it'll be great to be part of it.

"Last year was a tough one for sport, but hopefully we'll soon see the world rugby calendar start to take shape and there'll be plenty of exciting, new challenges to look forward to."

Last year, Smith earned his 97th test cap to become the most capped All Blacks halfback of all time. Barring injury, he should comfortably surpass the hallowed 100 mark this season.

Head coach Ian Foster says Smith's recommitment is a huge boost, given his value to the All Blacks as a veteran leader, who's still at the top of his game.

"He is so instrumental in the way we play the game and is such a vital cog for us, both on and off the field, so this is fantastic news," Fosters says.

Highlanders head coach Tony Brown echoes those sentiments.

"His leadership, commitment, drive and skill are all key aspects of his contribution to the Highlanders," says Brown. "He continues to be world class and works extremely hard to maintain it.

"That hard work and professionalism is a fantastic example to the rest of the team, particularly the young fellows coming into the team."

Smith should also become the most capped Highlanders player ever this season, surpassing former teammate Ben Smith's mark of 153.