The lure of the 2017 Lions tour could be the clincher for Jerome Kaino to re-sign with New Zealand Rugby.
The 31-year-old Blues captain was yesterday making all the right noises about staying put after the World Cup, as more players depart for overseas or start lining up fat contracts towards the end of the year.
Hours after Blues wing and 2013 All Black Frank Halai's pending move to London Wasps was confirmed, a fit and relaxed Kaino spoke on his first day back training with the Blues.
"I've spoken to the NZRU, and that's where my first priority lies," he said.
"There have been a few options put on the table, but I haven't really had time to consider them."
He did confirm that Toulouse was one of the northern clubs interested in him. His old All Blacks and Blues teammate Luke McAlister is one of several New Zealanders plying their trade with the wealthy French club.
"I'm committed to playing competitive rugby at this stage of my career, whether it be here at home or in Europe. I'm not sure if Japan fits in that category."
The eagerly awaited 2017 Lions tour certainly fits the competitive rugby bill. Kaino would be 34 when they hit our shores.
"It's a huge goal. I missed out on the 2005 series, which was a big disappointment. It's been a goal of mine to get my body right so I can last until 2017. I have to take a lot into consideration: my age, where I sit with the All Blacks, and also the Blues."
Kaino was a promising but inconsistent tyro when the Lions were last here, coming off the bench for Auckland against the tourists, but well behind Jerry Collins in the All Black pecking order.
Kaino said he was keen to make his final decision before the season starts, to avoid any distractions.
"Money is a good incentive, but it's not everything. It just so happens I come off contract at the end of the year, so I have to make a decision."
He will speak to his wife, his management, and All Black coach Steve Hansen and captain Richie McCaw to help him reach that decision.
Kaino, like his fellow All Black Blues, will not be required for tomorrow's practice match against the Chiefs in Whangarei, but he said he would be ready for the Super Rugby opener against the same opposition on February 14.
Blues coach John Kirwan said wing George Moala, in the news after being guilty of assault, would play tomorrow, and hooker James Parsons, the side's newest All Black, would play the Hurricanes in the final pre-season fixture on February 5.
Steven Luatua has yet to put pen to paper for next season, but hinted to the Herald that he was keen to stay in New Zealand for his rugby.
If Kaino leaves and Liam Messam turns his focus to sevens next year, the way may be clear for Luatua to seize the All Blacks' blindside flanker jersey.
• Frank Halai (Wasps)
• Ma'a Nonu (Toulon)
• Dan Carter (Racing Metro)
• Jeremy Thrush (Gloucester)
• Ben Franks (London Irish)