Despite having ruled himself out of the upcoming four nations Rugby Championship, Rene Ranger could still play a part in the series, remaining on standby in case of injury.
The versatile back made himself unavailable for selection for the 28-strong All Blacks squad to allow him to spend more time with his partner and newborn baby before taking up a contract in France.
However with Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith the only midfielders in the squad, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen may yet call upon Ranger if one of them is injured.
Ranger says he can appreciate can appreciate the irony in his decision to turn his back on the national side.
After struggling to make the team in recent years, Ranger looked a certainty to be included in the 28-man squad before withdrawing.
Ranger will instead captain Northland in the ITM Cup.