Beauden Barrett's manager has downplayed speculation that the star pivot will be leaving the Hurricanes, saying the All Black will only sort out where he will play next year when he gets time.
Barrett, who is off contract at the end of the year, told Radio Sport this week that he would weigh up his options and explore what opportunities were available to him, including the offer put forward by the Hurricanes.
"Just the young players here . . . it's pretty exciting and we know we can go a long way but it's definitely not certain that I will be back so we'll just leave it for the rest of the season," Barrett said.
However, his manager, Ashley Smith, said Barrett was waiting until he had a break from rugby before sitting down and deciding his future. He would in no way rule out staying with the Hurricanes.
Barrett did not want to discuss the issue yesterday and declined an interview request on the eve of tonight's Super Rugby match against the Highlanders.
There was some speculation that the Crusaders might be interested in luring him south if Dan Carter chose to miss the 2014 Super Rugby season but the Taranaki Daily News understands there has been no approach made.
The Blues have shown plenty of interest in Barrett in the past and it would be unusual if they didn't make another play for him.
Barrett's continued performances for the All Blacks would also attract interest from overseas, although Smith was not prepared to talk about that.
Barrett, 22, has repeatedly spoken about his "love" for the Hurricanes jersey but he, like any player, might be tempted by a big offer.
The Hurricanes should be desperate to keep their star playmaker, especially with the lack of depth they have in the position and the dearth of experienced options in New Zealand.
That should give Barrett tremendous leverage when it comes to negotiating his next contract.
As well as Barrett, All Blacks team-mate Julian Savea is also off contract at the end of the season and Hurricanes chief executive James Te Puni was keen to have both men return to Wellington next season along with the 20 or so players already on their books.
"We're reasonably pleased, but we won't be satisfied until all of them are covered off," he said.
Barrett is contracted to Taranaki until the end of the year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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