Tour swansong possible for Adam Thomson
Even if Adam Thomson signs with an overseas club, his place in the All Blacks tour squad may be secure.
Chief executive Steve Tew said Thomson had not re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union and was expected to say by Monday where he would play next year.
But if the loose forward, who has played 28 tests since his debut in 2008, does not recommit to the NZRU, he could still be named in Steve Hansen's 32-man squad at the Prebbleton rugby club on Monday morning.
"As far as I am concerned he is contracted until the end of this year. And that means, if I want to take him, he is eligible to be selected," Hansen said yesterday.
"He is one of those players who gives us a pretty good balance - he covers all three [back-row] positions."
Hansen said he was unaware of Thomson's plans.
"No, I'm not anxious. All the anxiety is in Adam's corner, he's the one who has to make a decision."
Although Thomson, 30, has been a member of Hansen's squads this season, Liam Messam and Victor Vito have often been preferred as his blindside flanker and reserve loose forward options.
Thomson was last used was as a replacement against the Springboks in Soweto earlier this month.
Although the scenario of Thomson being selected for the All Blacks tour, despite not being available to play in New Zealand the following year, is not ideal, it is nothing unique.
Other All Blacks have been carried in World Cup squads, having already signed to leave New Zealand at the end of their representative commitments.
Hansen could blood a newcomer such as Canterbury's Luke Whitelock but he may be reluctant to introduce more rookie forwards after selecting Sam Cane, Luke Romano, Brodie Retallick and Charlie Faumuina this year.
There has been speculation Thomson could join a Japanese club, despite their season having already begun.
Super Rugby coaches have to confirm to the NZRU on Monday their lists of up to 28 protected players and will fill their squads, which can have a maximum of 32, from the draft during a phone conference on Tuesday. Squads will be released on Wednesday.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has already said he thinks Thomson, who has played for the southern franchise since 2006, will head overseas.
It is understood the Highlanders, Crusaders and Blues have already spent their funds and cannot afford Thomson. The Blues had expressed an interest in Thomson but when he continued to dither they lost interest.
If Thomson does not secure an overseas deal, he could potentially end up in the draft.
Last night Thomson was to play for Otago in the NPC championship final against Counties-Manukau. It might have been his final game on New Zealand soil.
Meanwhile, hooker is the most contentious spot in Hansen's squad for the four-test tour of Scotland, Italy, Wales and England.
He is likely to select either Dan Coles or Hika Elliot behind veterans Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore.