Breakout Chiefs star Daniel Rona earns fulltime contract

The 22-year-old Taranaki midfielder was brought in this season as not a permanent injury replacement, but on just a short-term 30 training days gig that didn’t even guarantee him a place through till the end of the season.

But such has Rona’s impact been in his Super Rugby Pacific shot, the Chiefs on Tuesday announced that not only would he be remaining in their ranks through till the completion of the campaign, but that he had also signed a three-year deal to be in their clutches through till 2026.

“I have loved my time so far this year, and I’m really excited to be able to sign on for the next three seasons,” said Rona, who after two appearances off the bench, has then made five starts, and scored three tries, including two in his last outing in a standout-display against the Highlanders in Dunedin

The Chiefs just last week had All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown recommit till 2026 as well, while at the end of the season they are losing Alex Nankivell to Munster.

“We are pleased to have Daniel commit to the Chiefs going forward,” coach Clayton McMillan said. “He has been on our radar since he debuted for Taranaki and there's been something about him that we have always liked.

“Coming in during pre-season, he slotted in well to our environment, worked hard and took the opportunities that came his way.

“As we look to the future, securing talent like Daniel is key to continuously improving our squad while still having a good balance of fresh blood and experience.”

Taranaki coach Neil Barnes was delighted to see his young charge rewarded for his toil.

“It’s a great advertisement for a person that’s had to work very hard coming through our academy and Under 19’s system,” he said. “At the same time, he’s been doing the hard yards pouring concrete for a living and broke into the Taranaki NPC side two years ago.

“His opportunities up at the Chiefs started by coming in as an injury replacement player and earning a starting position for a good portion of the season.

“An honest, humble person, I couldn’t be happier on hearing this news.”