No way back to All Blacks for Jimmy Cowan
The curtain has officially come down on Jimmy Cowan's seven-year All Black career, which included 51 tests and started against Italy in November 2004.
It ended last year when he played what would turn out to be his last game for the All Blacks when they beat Argentina in the quarterfinal of the World Cup.
As expected, Cowan has missed selection in the 35-man All Blacks squad named on Sunday night to prepare for test matches against Ireland next month, which has officially ended his time with the All Blacks.
From last year's World Cup, Andy Ellis and Piri Weepu remain in the frame, while youngsters Aaron Smith and Tawera Kerr-Barlow were the other two halfbacks included.
Despite still being available for All Black duties until he heads overseas in October, Cowan said the day he signed his contract with Gloucester was the day he knew his international career had come to an end.
"It was always on the cards, wasn't it. That's the joys of signing contracts before campaigns, and I knew where I stood once I signed my contract with Gloucester," Cowan told The Southland Times yesterday.
"I knew I had done myself no favours by signing a deal overseas, so yeah, it's showed with that and my limited rugby I couldn't get picked.
"It's a chance now for the young ones coming through. It's their chance to show what they're all about. I've enjoyed my time thoroughly at the top level. It's time for me to move on."
The 30-year-old did not receive a courtesy phone call from the All Blacks management to advise him he had missed the extended squad and that his All Blacks days were over, but Cowan was not fazed.
"I wouldn't have expected it either, mate. It's under a new coaching regime now, that's the first squad of the year. I didn't plan on hearing from him [head coach Steve Hansen]. As I said, the writing was on the wall when I signed my contract to head offshore."
Cowan has backed Weepu to bounce back and play a major role for the All Blacks this year despite struggling for fitness and form during the Super Rugby season so far.
"He's played 55 tests, I think. He knows what he's got to do to get right at this time of the year. You can't take too much into account with what's happening with the Blues at the moment. I'm sure when he pulls that All Blacks jersey on he'll grow an arm and a leg.
"My understanding is he's in probably the best shape he's been in at this time of the year."
Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?