All Blacks and Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith has confirmed that he is staying in Dunedin and playing Super Rugby for the Highlanders next season.
Smith contract with the NZRU and the Highlanders was set to expire at the end of the season after four years with the Highlanders but he has now revealed that he plans to stay in Dunedin.
"It's pretty much sorted, it's just sorting out the length of (the contract) really. This is my home and it's going to be my home for the next few years," Smith told the Southland Times.
"I've tried to be loyal. These guys gave me my shot and I was able to live out my dream of becoming an All Black here."
"I owe them a lot for that and I've got to be pretty honest about the coaches too - Jamie (Joseph) has helped me a lot and then Brownie (Tony Brown) has helped my game go to another level this year. It buzzes me out a bit about how I've been going, and I put a lot of that down to Brownie."
Smith added that a major factor in his decision was the oppportunity to regularly play under the roof at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
"This stadium has helped me. I play half my games under a roof with a dry ball. That can be bad for you, but it suits me and it suits us as the Highlanders."
Smith has played 57 Super Rugby matches for the Highlanders since he joined them from Palmerston North for the 2011 season and hopes that he will eventually be seen as a southern man by the local rugby fraternity.
"I love it down here. I love being a Highlander and intend to be for a few years."