Hurricanes wing Cory Jane is poised to sign a deal with a Japanese club, but is likely to wait for confirmation he hasn't made the All Blacks squad for next month's tests against Wales before he does so.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will announce his 32-player squad for the tests in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin a week on Sunday. Jane, fighting for a place on the right wing in the absence of injured Hurricanes teammate Nehe Milner-Skudder, is likely to be given a nod either way before then. If it is a no then he will sign with the undisclosed club for what is thought to be a two-year contract.
Jane is still contracted to the Hurricanes next year, which is likely to be his final season at the franchise. The Japanese deal will rule him out of the Mitre 10 Cup for Wellington, but he would be allowed to go given his long service in New Zealand.
The 33-year-old has played 53 tests for the All Blacks after making his debut in 2008, but didn't make last year's World Cup squad.
The successful return of Waisake Naholo from his broken leg - he has scored four tries in a fortnight for the Highlanders - will count against Jane. Although he has had form and discipline issues with the Hurricanes, he has been remarkably consistent for the All Blacks.
Jane, one of the five players dropped by Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd recently after missing a curfew in South Africa, has scored 19 tries for the All Blacks. His last test was against the United States in November 2014.
Israel Dagg, who also missed the World Cup squad, is returning to form after injury at the Crusaders and Hansen could be tempted to pick him as fullback cover, with Ben Smith capable of playing on the right wing.
The emergence of Damian McKenzie at the Chiefs could also serve to squeeze Jane out, although it's possible Hansen could pick a conservative 18-forward, 14-back squad for next month's tests, and the Rugby Championship which starts in August, and take more risks on the All Blacks' Northern Hemisphere tour in November. The All Blacks begin that tour by playing Ireland in Chicago before playing Italy in Rome, Ireland in Dublin and France in Paris.
Also considering a big-money move to Japan are Highlanders outside backs Patrick Osborne and Richard Buckman. Osborne, who recently re-committed to the Highlanders for another season while also putting his lot in with Fiji, is said to be heading to Ricoh.
Buckman, who was ruled out for the season after hurting a shoulder in pre-season against French club Racing Metro in Hong Kong in February, is linked to Panasonic.