Star Timu was offered the same opportunities with Hawke's Bay this season as with Northland, says Magpies coach Craig Philpott.
Timu was up against a quality midfield of five players - Bronson Neera (Havelock North Rugby Football Club), brother Trinity Spooner-Neera (Havelock North), Adam Bradey (Havelock North), Richard Buckman (Taradale Rugby and Sports Club) and Andrew Horrell (Taradale) - to make the greater squad, Philpott says.
"All these guys are Hawke's Bay-born players and Andrew Horrell has been playing here for five seasons," he says of former Cantabrian Horrell.
Former Magpie Timu told Hawke's Bay Today from Whangarei he was "looking for a change" and "opportunities" with his new club, Hikurangi, in a bid to secure a Northland jersey in the ITM Cup rugby campaign this winter.
"I'm a Hawke's Bay boy so I'm very disappointed to leave my home," the 22-year-old Hastings Rugby and Sports utility back said on Wednesday after leaving for the Far North about five weeks ago.
"I've got to look forward, not back now. I'm keen on something new.
"I have friends and family who are gutted that I've left the region.
"It's pretty sad we're not signing up Hawke's Bay boys but it's their choice, I suppose."
Timu revealed he had mulled over going to Waikato but had changed his mind.
Former All Black hooker Hika Elliot (not wanted, still to indicate future), prop Ben Tameifuna (not wanted, with Waikato this season), ex-Canterbury prop Pete Borlase (injured), first five-eight Daniel Waenga (playing in France) are other players not returning to the Magpies fold this winter.
Philpott says he and assistant coach Danny Lee didn't return phone calls on Wednesday because the squad were training from 4:30pm to 7:50pm, consequently missing the newspaper's deadline.
Asked if Timu had fitness issues, he replied: "Yes, because his skin folds often blew out but that's not the reason why he wasn't offered a contract.
"He was fighting alongside other quality players for the midfield positions."
Timu, who didn't try to make the Hawke's Bay Sevens cut this year, opted to train on his own and do some road running.
New Northland assistant coach George Konia, a Magpies assistant to Brendon Ratcliffe in 2005-06, lauded Timu's fitness and strength but felt he could do better with his speed.
Konia emphasised Timu was just another young player who had been in their club system for three weeks but needed to show his prowess in the next two months if he was to make the cut for the ITM Cup campaign.
Philpott says Timu needed to front up for his club like all other club hopefuls trying to make the Magpies' wider training squad.
"Star wasn't in the our wider training group last November."