Beauden Barrett won't farewell the All Blacks jersey just yet, with NZ Rugby revealing the veteran first-five is set to sign a new multi-year deal through until the next World Cup.
NZ Rugby expects the two-time World Rugby player of the year will pen a fresh deal to remain in Aotearoa, meaning he'll be available for selection for the All Blacks in 2024.
Barrett, 32, will miss the upcoming season of Super Rugby Pacific with the Blues to take up a one-year deal with Japanese side Toyota Verblitz under the same arrangement as All Blacks teammates Ardie Savea and Sam Cane.
A new deal would mean he'd be able to return and play under new All Black coach Scott Robertson, before returning to Super Rugby in 2025.
Newshub understands NZ Rugby's preference is that Barrett returns after his stint in Japan.
"Nothing is quite finalised but that’s certainly the intention," said NZR general manager Chris Lendrum.
Barrett's return would help fill the void left by departing All Blacks No. 10 Richie Mo'unga, who's taking up a three-year deal in Japan.
"He's certainly got the opportunity to come back here, that's what he wants to do," said NZ Rugby men's head of high performance Mike Anthony.
"Like some of the other senior pros, there's a chance to head away and get a sabbatical and then come back in."
The All Blacks open their 2024 test campaign against England in a two-test series, with Barrett likely to be back in time to feature.
"If we we end up in a position where he plays at Toyota and then is returning to New Zealand Rugby for the second half of 2024 then yes, he would be available for the All Blacks in 2024," Lendrum said.
"That's on the basis he signs a multi-year contract."
The 123-test veteran will add some valuable experience to the All Blacks mix, after a post-World Cup exodus that's included the likes of Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Dane Coles.
Barrett and Chiefs pivot Damian McKeznie will be the favourites to slot into the jersey vacated by Mo'unga, although NZR hope the next World Cup cycle unveils a fresh contender for the next tournament in Australia.
"There's some really good young talent. [Crusaders first-five] Taha Kemara, [Highlanders] Cam Millar, people like that who are going to get an opportunity in Super Rugby," added Anthony.
"No. 10 is probably at this stage the position that will be of interest through Super Rugby and for Razor and his team to track."