Silver Ferns star Maria Tutaia is in negotiations with netball bosses to take a sabbatical next year.
The Herald has learned the 107-test veteran is keen to take a break from the sport following the 2018 Commonwealth Games, in the hopes of prolonging her international career.
The break will rule Tutaia out of at least part of next year's ANZ Premiership with the Northern Mystics, but she is expected to commit to Netball NZ through to the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool.
Tutaia's manager David Steele told the Herald the veteran shooter is "completely committed" to the Mystics and Netball New Zealand for 2018 and 2019.
"What we're working on is getting some flexibility around her playing schedule over the next two seasons," said Steele.
"We're 90 per cent there, it just takes a bit of time to work through as we are talking to both the Mystics and Netball NZ, so it is a three-way deal."
Former Mystics chief executive Julie Paterson, who has taken on a new role at Tennis NZ but is continuing to manage the recruitment process for the Auckland franchise, said she is delighted Tutaia is staying loyal to the Mystics.
"There's been no firm discussion of what it is going to look like [in terms of what level of involvement she will have in next year's ANZ Premiership], her plans have been a bit up in the air, but she is still committed to the Mystics," said Paterson.
Speculation over Tutaia's future has been swirling since the Mystics announced the signing of young Steel shooter Jamie Hume for the 2018 season, alongside incumbents Bailey Mes and Tera-Maria Amani. With just 10 to a roster, the confirmation of three shooters didn't seem to leave any room for Tutaia.
Tutaia's omission roused fears the star shooter and Silver Ferns vice-captain would be lost to New Zealand netball. But it appears the moves to negotiate a sabbatical were driven by a desire to extend her international career.
The star goal attack has played just five of the Silver Ferns' past 19 tests since the World Cup final in August 2015.
She was granted leave from the national team for the 2015 Constellation Cup series, but otherwise her international career has been stymied by a series of niggly foot injuries. A break would help Tutaia stay physically and mentally fresh for the Ferns' two pinnacle events over the next two years - the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the World Cup in 2019.
It is not known what level of involvement Tutaia will have with the Mystics programme over the next two years, but it is unlikely she will play full seasons. Likewise Tutaia's workload with the Silver Ferns may be restricted to key test series.
For Netball NZ officials, it will be a case of striking the right balance between keeping the long-range shooting specialist fresh for big campaigns, and ensuring she remains match fit.
The six ANZ Premiership teams need to submit their rosters for the 2018 season by August 22.
Paterson said she has almost completed the contracting, with only a couple more positions on the Mystics roster to firm up. She expects to announce another batch of signings later this week.