If there is one man the Chiefs wanted to keep in their stable for the long-term, it is Anton Lienert-Brown.

That's now the reality after the 24-year old announced he has inked a new deal to stay at the club through until the end of 2023.

In a climate where many are heading offshore — the difference with Lienert-Brown is that he can pretty much write his ticket into the All Blacks midfield when fit — he's that good a player.

Overseas offers would've been high in monetary value, but the reality is that Lienert-Brown wasn't really casting a net off shore. For the 24-year-old, his decision to stay is not so much about unfinished business like some of the headlines will suggest, it's actually about being in a place to thrive, grow and be happy.


A staunch advocate for men's mental health, leadership and suicide prevention, one could wager that Lienert-Brown wants to make as big a difference off the field as he frequently does when he plays on it.

In that sense, he's very similar to two of the other big names in New Zealand Rugby, Ardie Savea and TJ Perenara.

A modern, intelligent and unapologetic athlete who, you sense, cares more about the wellbeing of youngsters coming through the rugby system which is becoming more complex by the day.

Where the disconnect between professionalism and the grassroots game is growing by the day, having a guy like this on hand to mentor youngsters plucked straight out of high school and thrust into a pro rugby environment could be of major benefit to the greater performances of the side.

Remember guys like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter? They were both tremendously invested in being better rugby players but also took the time to put in the hard yards to develop a wellbeing within winning team culture.

By keeping Lienert-Brown in their stable, the Chiefs get some justified reward for consistently backing the 24-year-old as their premier midfielder for well over two years now.

Cut from the same cloth as his good mate Damian McKenzie, the two rose quickly to become the two biggest names in the Chiefs backline and both made their respective All Black debuts in 2016 after first coming onto the scene in late 2014.

Whether it be Dave Rennie, Colin Cooper or Warren Gatland, the three coaches that Lienert-Brown has played under in Super Rugby all talked of how crucial an asset he is to the club and it was always on the back of performances where he's constantly had to adapt to working with different first fives.


Having Lienert-Brown around as the team moves forward will be just as crucial. Remember, the Chiefs will field what still will be a young backline in 2021.

Especially for youngsters like Kaleb Trask and Tiaan Falcon who will be charged with working at first five, the match-situation knowledge, experience and composure that Lienert-Brown has on their inside will be critical.

Couple that with a calming voice and a deep trust in the process, perhaps the best may be yet to come from Lienert-Brown. That should have Chiefs fans excited.

Michael Pulman is a freelance journalist based in Hamilton.