Brodie Retallick has confirmed he will be available for the All Blacks for their July tests, with his stint in Japan nearing an end.
Retallick has been on a working sabbatical for the past year, taking some time away from the New Zealand game to compete in Japan's Top League with Kobelco Steelers.
He was unavailable for international fixtures in 2020.
However, with the 29-year-old lock set to return home in the coming weeks, he told Newstalk ZB's Martin Devlin yesterday he would be ready to go for the All Blacks' July tests.
"When I arrive back in New Zealand and pass a medical, I'll be under contract with New Zealand Rugby again.
"I'm not too sure exactly what the process is and I'm not too sure if they have tests for July, but I'll be available," said Retallick.
"Hopefully I get an opportunity to put my best foot forward, and if not, I guess I'll be maybe playing for the [Hawke's Bay] Magpies to prove my case and try to get my way back in there."
The All Blacks were set to meet Italy during the international window in July. However, it is understood that window will now feature tests against Fiji and Samoa, as Italy have decided against the trip.
On the original schedule, the All Blacks were to have two tests against Italy and one against Fiji. Now it is expected the side will face Fiji twice before a one-off test against Samoa.
Outside of the July window, the Rugby Championship is set to run in August and September.
The All Blacks are set to open their campaign with a three-test Bledisloe Cup series against the Wallabies on consecutive Saturdays on August 7, 14 and 21, with two of those being part of the Rugby Championship.
First-five Beauden Barrett is in a similar position to Retallick, also on sabbatical in Japan with Suntory Sungoliath. They are competing in the Top League quarter-finals this weekend — and will meet in the semifinals should they progress.
They are due to return to New Zealand at the end of the season and Barrett is also expected to be available to the All Blacks.