The prospects of being coached by Jamie Joseph and reclaiming his All Blacks jersey have prompted Hosea Gear to leave the Hurricanes for the Highlanders.
The 27-year-old, who was the most controversial omission from this year's All Blacks World Cup squad, has re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union for two years and committed to the Highlanders for one.
Gear said today the move wasn't prompted by the recent ructions at the Hurricanes under Mark Hammett, rather that Joseph's influence on him during his time with the Wellington Lions in the National Provincial Championship and New Zealand Maori team last year was positive which made him a drawcard.
"I guess having spent a lot of time with Jamie, he tends to always bring out the best in me so that was definitely something that helped me make my decision down there. And obviously there's been a few ups and downs at the Hurricanes and it was a matter of if I wanted to stay and hang around or if I wanted to set new challenges for myself and head away,'' Gear said.
"For me obviously the black jersey still lingers in the back of my mind. I love New Zealand, I love the New Zealand people and I'd love to stay here as long as I could.''
Gear said he was presented an offer by the Hurricanes and the Chiefs had also made noises about luring him to Hamilton, on top of a few overseas opportunities.
But the six-test All Black said after talking his future over with his parents, fiancee and older brother, Rico, he decided that jetting to the Northern Hemisphere wasn't for him.
"I guess for me, I sort of looked at it as it was the easy option to just pack up and leave and leave straight away. So by staying it sets some new challenges for me.''
The winger said despite the exodus of senior Hurricanes players following coach Hammett's sensational axing of Ma'a Nonu and captain Andrew Hore last season, he didn't have an issue with the Hurricanes' coaching staff.
"Me personally, no I didn't have a problem with [Hammett and assistant coach Alama Ieremia] at all. We had a pretty good relationship and I fully respect both of them. I back everything that they're trying to achieve within the franchise, so I guess the decision probably came down to me wanting to play at the best of my ability, which Jamie tends to bring the best out of me.''
Since Nonu and Hore were told they weren't required for next year's Super Rugby season, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, John Schwalger, Neemia Tialata and Bryn Evans have all departed the franchise.