The Samoan international Tim Nanai-Williams has revealed he was close to linking with cousin Sonny Bill Williams at the Blues before deciding to return for another Super Rugby season at the Chiefs.
The 27-year-old, who has just finished a two-year stint playing in Japan seriously considered a move up north to Auckland to also play under his former Counties coach Tana Umaga at the Blues.
"It was pretty close really but at the end of the day my loyalties are here and my family was already based down here so the decision became easy for me to come back to Hamilton," Nanai-Williams said.
The utility back has already clocked up 77 caps for the Hamilton based franchise and says the chance of playing 100 games for the Chiefs is a major goal.
Nanai-Williams admits adjusting to the Super Rugby environment has been tough after a year away, having played in both of the Chiefs' pre-season games and the Brisbane Tens-winning side.
"In Japan those guys are fit and the games are really quick, so it's just the physicality coming back here. I had to run into some props at training just to get used to being smacked around," he said.
The departures of Seta Tamanivalu to the Crusaders, Andrew Horrell to Jpaan and Williams to the Blues and the concussion to Charlie Ngatai have left a major gap in the Chiefs midfield that Nanai-Williams could be asked to fill but he believes he's up to the challenge.