All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu will not report for duty with the Blues Super Rugby franchise next week and will be sidelined indefinitely by an "ongoing personal matter".
Tuipulotu toured the Northern Hemisphere with the national side last November, starting against Ireland in Chicago and then against Italy in Rome but the giant second rower returned home a week early, along with injured flanker Sam Cane and utility back Ben Smith, for what coach Steve Hansen described at the time as "personal reasons".
Since then, all the tourists have been serving a mandatory 12-week stand-down between seasons. They are due back with the Super Rugby franchises next week to begin pre-season training.
New Zealand Rugby Players' Association rep Rob Nichol has confirmed Tuipulotu will not be among them, but would not elaborate any further on the issue.
The Blues referred any further comment on the matter to the Players' Association.
Tuipulotu's management company, WeAreTenzing, through founder Brooke Howard-Smith, refused to comment.
Tuipulotu has been with the Blues since 2014, playing 34 games and scoring five tries.
He made his All Blacks debut that same year, coming on as a substitute in a 28-27 win over England in Dunedin, and has 12 test caps.
His prolonged absence would be a huge blow to Blues coach Tana Umaga in his second year at the helm and hoping to improve on their eight-win, six-loss and one-draw 2016 record, to take them to their first playoff appearance since 2011.
Meanwhile, the Blues are poised to announce an official Super Rugby match in Samoa this year.
It's understood the Blues' scheduled home competition match against the Reds on June 2 will now be played in Apia.
The deal is a collaboration with the Samoan government, which recently poured money in to Joseph Parker's successful WBO title fight win over Andy Ruiz Jr in Auckland in December last year.
It's believed the Blues' desire to take the game out of New Zealand was influenced by the fact they face the touring British and Irish Lions at Eden Park on June 6 - four days after a game against the Reds, which is seen as a hard-sell so close to the Lions game.
It won't be the first time a Super Rugby competition match has been played outside the Sanzaar catchment.
The Crusaders hosted the Sharks at Twickenham in London in 2011, the year the Christchurch-based franchise had to take its home games on the road due to the deadly earthquake in the southern city.
Since then, the Chiefs have taken a home game to Fiji, playing the Crusaders in Suva last year. The same clash this season between the Crusaders and Chiefs will also be played in Fiji.