The Hurricanes' horror hand is still in the deck as their Super Rugby season stutters to its conclusion.
Neither Beauden Barrett or Julian Savea can confirm they will be back at the franchise next year as they negotiate new deals to stay in Wellington.
Barrett is clearly being wooed by the Blues, while Savea's phone is sure to be ringing hot as he weighs his next move.
Though both men spoke positively about the Hurricanes, they also hedged their bets when quizzed about their plans Saturday's 49-44 loss to the Highlanders.
"Basically I'm just going to wait for the review at the end of the season, which I always do," Barrett said. "I'm off contract so we'll see how the review goes and make a decision after the season. That's basically all I can tell you.
"I guess people sign early because they like the security. I do it the other way around. I like to have the season review, know where the team is heading, who is going to be around and make a good decision at the end of the season. That's where my mindset is."
Until Barrett decides for sure the Hurricanes heirarchy will face some sleepless nights.
The thought of losing another All Black first five-eighth leaving two years after Aaron Cruden headed north to the Chiefs will be unthinkable.
Likewise, Savea's pulling power is essential for a franchise that has watched its average crowds fall to about 11,000.
"I guess so," the 22-year-old said when asked if fans should be a little worried he hasn't recommitted yet. "Hopefully when I get to that stage, I never want to leave home, but we'll see how it goes."
The Blues may also have eyes for Savea who would be an ideal replacement for France bound Rene Ranger, while the Highlanders are sure to be seeking a like-for-like wing when Hosea Gear heads to Japan.
One can only assume the delays come down to finance and if so the players are in pole position and understandably in no hurry.
Both made it clear they have a strong affinity to the Hurricanes franchise where they have made the leap from age grade stars to All Blacks.
"I love the Hurricanes, it was always my dream and to finally make it and get selected in 2011, that was a dream come true. I don't want to lose that," Savea said. "There is so much potential. We showed it on the pitch. Obviously there are things we need to work on, but its got to be a starting point for next season.
"We can't look at this as the end of the season because we want to be a champion team."
Barrett too spoke as though his preference was to stay put.
"As a team results don't show it but we are definitely growing our game and have improved a lot from the start of the season to now," he said.
"We are using the ball like we want to and playing that wide game that we want to. We are growing and making better decisions in using the ball."
He rejected talk that his early season struggles were caused by a Hurricanes game plan that did not suit him.
"I don't think so. It was confidence and just finding my feet again after a long off season. It's the first time I've had a two month off season.
"Last year I had a big pre-season and came into the first game feeling confident, but this time I had a long time off. It was a good mental break but physically my confidence wasn't there the first few games."
Hurricanes fans will be desperately hoping Barrett fires from the start next year and not in a Blues jersey.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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