The Chiefs will be relieved that Anton Lienert-Brown has re-signed with them until the end of 2020 after he attracted interest from the table-topping Crusaders.
The 22-year-old All Blacks and Chiefs midfielder told media today that Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, with whom he worked in the world championship-winning 2015 New Zealand Under 20s, was keen for him to return to his native region where he was schooled.
"I'm a Christchurch man and I know Razor well and he did ask the question. But they've got some good midfielders down there and I love it up here at the Chiefs," says Lienert-Brown.
"The Chiefs and Waikato have done a lot for me and it was an easy decision in the end."
His own game has been sound on defence, but missing some of the more subtle attacking touches he showed with the All Blacks in his breakout 2016 season.
"I'll be the first to admit it hasn't been my best year so far... it's just about trusting the process. I believe in working hard and I feel if I continue working hard, good things will come," he says.
Lienert-Brown and the Chiefs face the Crusaders this Friday in the Fijian capital Suva hoping for a repeat of their 2016 victory over the same opponent in the same city. That will mean three All Blacks midfielders on show plus Jack Goodhue, who will be an All Black one day. The latter played with Lienert-Brown, though not in the midfield, in the Under 20s. There will be some extra spice with a former Chief in Seta Tamanivalu on the Crusaders' wing.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, who is across all the new recruitment and signings with incoming coach Colin Cooper, is more than happy with Lienert-Brown's 2017 contribution.
"Defensively, ALB has been great, He's got a phenomenal work-rate. We probably haven't attacked as well as we did last year... we are happy the way he's going and I'm sure the All Blacks aren't too concerned," Rennie says.
"I think there was nervousness when James Lowe, Aaron Cruden and Tawera Kerr-Barlow announced their departures in close proximity, but there are enormous numbers who are already confirmed (for next year)."
Hooker Nathan Harris, 25, not long back from a knee injury, is the other re-signing announced today by the Chiefs. He is now under contract until 2019 and had no thoughts of moving after battling some serious injuries in the last couple of years.
"It's a pleasure and honour to be re-signed by the Chiefs. It's a special moment for me and my family and friends," he told Radio Sport's Nigel Yalden.
"It's just like family here. They brought me in a couple of years ago (2014) and gave me my first shot. Through tough times they've been there for me. For me with my ankle, at the time, why would they re-sign a guy? Now for me to come back after my knee is pretty spectacular, so I was definitely not looking abroad. It was a pretty easy call."