Jason Taumalolo fielded a secret approach from New Zealand Rugby to quit the NRL and join forces with Sonny Bill Williams and the All Blacks at the 2019 World Cup.
The Courier-Mail has reported that NZR bosses attempted to poach the Cowboys forward following his NFL workout in Los Angeles in November.
Taumalolo's potential switch to rugby was one of the considerations in Cowboys hierarchy's decision to sign the Kiwi Test star to a record 10-year deal in March.
Taumalolo's management confirmed the approach.
"Rugby union was certainly an option on the table for Jason," his agent Chris Orr told The Courier-Mail.
"The NFL interest opened up the Cowboys' eyes to the fact Jason had options, and the other threat was the inquiries from New Zealand Rugby.
"When we got back from America, we fielded calls from two third-parties making an inquiry about the All Blacks.
"They asked us if Jason would be interested in switching codes with a view to him playing for the All Blacks."
"Jason considered the approach from rugby. Every young New Zealand kid probably thinks at some stage about playing for the All Blacks.
"He didn't want to waste anyone's time and instructed me to work with the Cowboys."
Taumalolo was saddled with comparisons to Sonny Bill Williams the moment he set foot in the NRL.
However, the North Queensland lock hasn't just stepped out of the shadow of the Kiwi superstar, he's arguably gone past him as a destructive force.
While it's no longer appropriate to compare the two side by side, given Taumalolo's move from the edge to the middle of the field, his numbers show he's just as damaging, if not more, than Williams during the height of his powers.
During Sunday's grand final, Taumalolo - last year's Dally M co-winner - will become the first forward and second player overall to run for 5000m during a season.
After averaging 198m, 18.2 carries, 26.5 tackles as well as making 120 tackle busts, nine line breaks and 30 offloads during 2017, he's had one of the most- memorable seasons by a forward.
Compare this to back-rower Williams who, at his best and during his 2013 premiership year with the Sydney Roosters, churned through less work with an average 109 metres, 11.6 runs and 23.8 tackles.
However, the dual international made a far greater impact on the scoreboard with 72 tackle busts, 13 line breaks, seven try assists and 16 line-break assists.
Williams' former Canterbury teammate Reni Maitua said comparing the two was like apples and oranges, however they had both earned superstar status.
"They play a little bit differently, but their presence on the field, and what Taumalolo especially is doing through this back-end of the season, is nothing short of amazing," Maitua said.
"He's going to leave his own legacy. Everyone's going to compare them, but they're both great players.
"He's just got great genetics and good luck trying take him down on your own. You've just got to contain him somehow.
"Melbourne will have their own theories about how to stop him this week. He's unstoppable at the moment."
So how do Melbourne stop the irresistible force during Sunday's decider at ANZ Stadium?
Storm prop and forward leader Jesse Bromwich echoed the sentiments of many of his opponents over the past three weeks and said it was impossible to stop him and you just had to do your best to slow him down.
"I don't know if there are any more words which can describe what Jason Taumalolo has done this year," Bromwich said.
"He's just blessed with size, speed, power and agility. We're going to be at our best to contain him.
"We can't stop Jason Taumalolo - all we can do is limit him."
Kiwi wrecking balls
How does Jason Taumalolo's 2017 season compare to Sonny Bill Williams in 2013?
-Taumalolo's 2017 - 25 games, 63 avg minutes, four tries, 18.2 avg runs, 198 avg metres, 120 tackles busts, nine line breaks, one line-break assist, 0 try assists, 30 offloads, 26.5 avg tackles.
-Williams' 2013 - 24 games, 73 avg minutes, eight tries, 11.6 avg runs, 109 avg metres, 72 tackle busts, 13 line breaks, 16 line-break assists, seven try assists, 66 offloads, 23.8 avg tackles.