Oliver and Gear to stay with provinces

All Blacks Anton Oliver and Rico Gear will remain with their current provinces for the duration of the 2006 season. [more]

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All Blacks Anton Oliver and Rico Gear will remain with their current provinces for the duration of the 2006 season.

Crusaders winger Gear has long been linked with a move to Canterbury – where his Super 14 franchise is based – while there has been speculation Otago and Hurricanes hooker Oliver may move to Europe following the publication of his autobiography.

But on Friday Gear was named in the 36-man squad to have signed with the Tasman union – who have been formed out of his current Nelson Bays team and Marlborough’s union – for the 2006 Air New Zealand National Provincial Championship (NPC), while Oliver has also pledged faith to his current employers.

Of Gear, Tasman chairman Max Spense told the stuff.co.nz website: "He’s been contracted all along. We signed him (for Nelson Bays) last year and that was for a couple of years, and that’s carried on."

Spence said signing Gear, along with England Sevens star Ben Gollings, former All Black Greg Feek and Samoan international Nathan George, ensured Tasman had "key players in key positions".

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Meanwhile, Gear’s All Black colleague Oliver has signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union until after the World Cup in France in 2007.

And Oliver expects to stay loyal to his province for the duration of his contract – ending speculation of retirement or a move to Europe.

"I’d be very happy to stay with the All Blacks for that time, but if not I would still like to play for Otago and the Highlanders to give something back to Otago rugby," Oliver said.

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