All Blacks veteran TJ Perenara has revealed just how close he came to a code switch earlier this year.
As New Zealand prepare for Sunday's Rugby Championship test against Argentina, the Hurricanes halfback might have been lining up for Sydney Roosters in the NRL playoff game against Golf Coast Titans.
Perenara says it was "touch and go" that he would put pen to paper on a new deal with NZ Rugby, after a stint in Japan at the end of his previous contract.
Ultimately, Perenara committed to the All Blacks and Hurricanes through 2023, but at times, the situation was uncomfortable, with coach Ian Foster disappointed that it unfolded in the public eye.
But the 29-year-old has put that saga behind him and is now focused on the task at hand, which includes being on the road for potentially three more months.
New Zealand's COVID-19 quarantine protocols are likely to keep the All Blacks abroad until early December, with trips to the United States and Europe to come.
Perenara is offering his experience of being separated from his family to members of the squad, explaining his Japanese adventure taught him how to deal with the dark times of being isolated from whanau.
"I think that sort of got me into a tough spot mentally," Perenara says. "[Rugby] was my constant - it was something I knew I had every day.
"The last thing I want is for some of those players to go through some of those darker moments that I went through at the start of my time away from family."
Perenara came off the bench in the 38-21 victory over the Wallabies on Sunday, completing a three-match Bledisloe Cup sweep and taking the All Blacks to the top of the Rugby Championship ladder.
But a different challenge awaits in the next month, with a pair of tests each against the Pumas and world champion Springboks.
Both Argentina and South Africa play a more physical style of rugby than Australia, meaning a slight shift in mindset for the All Blacks.
Perenara says they are prepared for the intensity that the Pumas will bring this weekend on the Gold Coast.
"We understand that it is a bit of a beast coming this week.
"They are a very big team. They play with a lot of speed and a lot of passion, and they are very physical.
“They enjoy that one-on-one collision - they enjoy getting around the corner and coming straight at you."
This weekend's action sees a doubleheader at Robina, with the Wallabies v Springboks to follow the New Zealand-Argentina clash.
Join us at 7pm Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks v Pumas Rugby Championship clash