Wellington - All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen expects that Kieran Read will re-sign with the NZRU, with a sabbatical in 2018 an option.
Read, 31, is set to miss the first few rounds of Super Rugby
next year following wrist surgery.
The number eight led New Zealand to 13 wins from 14 matches
in 2016 and is viewed as the long-term captain for the defending world
champions heading towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Hansen hopes the incentive of leading the team as they go
for a third RWC title in a row in Japan would convince Read, and the lock Sam
Whitelock, to sign new deals.
Ben Smith, Aaron Cruden and Israel Dagg are all out of contract
next year and have received offers from European clubs.
"I guess you'd want your captain to re-sign. Reading
the paper the other day, I can't see why he wouldn't, you've all said he's the
million-dollar man," Hansen said.
"Those types of challenges inspire players to want to
stay, so hopefully, we have everyone sign up.
"You go back and the word 'sabbatical' was a nasty one.
If it keeps them in New Zealand and makes them available to play these big test
matches and tournaments to the standard they did, why wouldn't you?"
Hansen also revealed that the squad who played in November
will take part in a conditioning camp in January, the first meet-up in 2017
ahead of facing the British and Irish Lions.
"It's so we can turn around to the franchises and say, 'this is the nick they're in and this is where we need them to get to'."