New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew has slammed the brakes on talk of a 2017 match- up between the all-conquering All Blacks and England, but has admitted any showdown between the teams would be "huge".
The world champions have reportedly come in for a mega-offer from England's Rugby Football Union of more than $5 million to agree to the November 4 Twickenham Test.
England have been in scintillating form since their premature 2015 World Cup exit, winning a record-equalling 18 Tests on the trot under Australian boss Eddie Jones.
A victory against Ireland in their Six Nations clash on Sunday morning (AEDT) will give England a record 19th consecutive Test win.
Yet in a frustrating quirk of the international schedule, the game's two in-form teams are not currently scheduled to meet until late 2018, with the All Blacks in negotiations to secure a match against the Barbarians in November.
Tew and NZR had previously been insistent their Test outfit would not play England in 2017, but appeared to soften their rhetoric this afternoon.
A number of options were on the table for the November 4 Test, with France, Wales and Scotland already lined up for the subsequent three weeks.
The All Blacks will also play the British and Irish Lions in June and July, coming up against a number of Jones' English men.
"Given the year we have ahead of us, adding an additional fixture against a major nation like England would be huge," Tew said in a statement.
"But we are best to not discuss options until we have firmed up our plans."
Jones has reportedly endorsed the RFU's approach, emboldened by his side's strong Six Nations showings and 2016 whitewash of Australia.
Yet any Test, falling outside of World Rugby's international window, will require the RFU to negotiate the release of their players from the UK Aviva Premiership.
An RFU statement echoed Tew in looking ahead to the sides' locked-in 2018 Test but was somewhat more bullish on the prospects of a tussle this year.
"If there now might be an opportunity to play them this year, we want to pursue it," the statement read.
"But there are many parts to this and many considerations to be discussed."