As Beauden Barrett mulls his options for next year, his Hurricanes team-mates didn't give the first-five too many reasons to stay in Wellington as they went down 49-44 to the Highlanders tonight.
The eight-test All Black is off-contract at season's end and there has been a whisper the Blues are keen on securing his services, while there's no denying the Hurricanes would dearly love to hang on to him.
At 22 the pivot is the face of the franchise, who hasn't missed a game in the past two seasons and bar some minor defensive issues, is a player on the rise.
Losing him would be a massive loss for the Hurricanes and their coach Mark Hammett.
When asked after tonight's defeat to the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium whether he would be back in the capital next year, Barrett simply said: ``hopefully''.
"I'm not too keen to talk on it at the moment,'' Barrett said. ``I'll leave it up till the end of the season and do our season review, which we always do and make a decision after that.''
The Blues tried to recruit Barrett in 2011 but he opted for a wider training group deal with the Hurricanes and went on to make his debut that season for the franchise his father, Kevin, represented in the 1990s.
Barrett's brother, Kane, is a member of the Blues squad but it doesn't appear he has given his younger sibling a solid sales pitch on heading to Auckland.
"He enjoys it up there, so he's always encouraging. So we'll just see what happens,'' Beauden Barrett said.
Most of the Hurricanes' squad has been secured for next year but Barrett's signature will be the crucial one to snag in the next month.
It would be a surprise if Barrett was to leave given his strong Taranaki links and when he spoke about tonight's game, he gave the impression he wanted to continue with the Hurricanes.
"We are playing for spots next year and we are building for next year and we want to finish the season strong and show our fans why they come and watch us each week,'' Barrett said.
"We've got a lot to work on and it's pleasing that we can score this many points, it's just we've got to stop leaking too many and I've got confidence this team's going to go places. It's pleasing we can fight back like that and we never gave up.''
It hardly sounded like a parting shot from a guy on the move.
Tonight's game was a frenetic affair that never had a dull moment, particularly in the second half but the Hurricanes fell off too many tackles and didn't treasure the ball.
Tries were scored at will as defence was thrown out the window in a contest that held little bearing on the competition standings but eventually yielded 11 tries in all.
The Highlanders set the tone in the first spell as they racked up a 32-13 half-time lead but after they lost Aaron Smith to the sin bin mid-way through the second half the Hurricanes roared back in to the game.
Twice in the final 40 minutes the Hurricanes threatened to take the lead but the Highlanders did just enough to hold on as they banked their third win of the season in a game that won't have given either coach much to be proud of.
The Hurricanes round out their season with a trip to Christchurch next week to meet the Crusaders, while the Highlanders have a date with the Rebels in Melbourne.
Highlanders 49 (Mose Tuiali'i, Tamati Ellison, Aaron Smith, Kade Poki, Hosea Gear, Elliot Dixon tries; Colin Slade 3 pen, 3 con; Hayden Parker 2 con) Hurricanes 44 (Ash Dixon, Ben Franks, Julian Savea, Chris Smylie, James Broadhurst tries; Beauden Barrett 3 pen, 5 con) HT: 32-13