Robbie Fruean is no certainty to return to Canterbury for the defence of their NPC crown.
Fruean, who joined the Chiefs this season after four years at the Crusaders, has yet to decide who he will represent in the domestic competition.
Canterbury coach Scott Robertson is prepared to give Fruean, who hasn't travelled with the Chiefs on their road trip to Perth and South Africa because he required a procedure for abnormal heart rhythms, time to make a call.
Fruean played for Canterbury for three seasons, and was named the NPC player of the year in 2010 and 2012, before sitting out last year's campaign to recover from an operation to replace a heart valve.
Robertson will, however, have another Chiefs player back in lock Matt Symons.
Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne, who left the Chiefs and declined an offer from the Crusaders because the Highlanders offered more money, will also return to Canterbury.
Highlanders co-captain and No 8 Nasi Manu is also contracted to Canterbury. Prop Paea Fa'anunu looks set to stay in France after recently joining Montpellier as injury cover.
- A further Canterbury rep, Milford Keresoma, will return to action for his Sumner club this season.
Keresoma, a New Zealand sevens player, was having a bright NPC season with his new province last year when he suffered a serious knee injury and that stuffed any chance of securing a Crusaders contract.
- Crusaders halfback and part-time radio jock Andy Ellis has never lacked for the gift of the gab.
After the Crusaders played the Rebels on March 14, Ellis stayed in Melbourne and wanted to take a family member out for a meal.
Alas, everywhere he tried was booked out. Then Ellis, noting the Formula One Australian Grand Prix was in Melbourne, struck upon an idea. He boldly introduced himself as a driver by the name of "Maverick Alonso" at a restaurant. Sure enough, it worked. Ellis - under the alias of M Alonso - was quickly ushered to a table. His wait for dinner was over.
❏ Former All Blacks captain Tane Norton must have almost snorted his beer out his nose when some friends recently discovered an old Press newspaper that documented the unusual circumstances around an injury suffered by former Canterbury cricketer Bryan Andrews.
Norton and Christchurch auctioneer Andrews are good mates, but the latter's misfortune, as stated in the February 4, 1965, edition, caused some mirth. Fast bowler Andrews, according to the report, was injured before a "vital" Plunket Shield match against Auckland when he dislocated a bicep in his sleep.
Andrews had earlier injured the arm while firing down missiles for a Presidents XI against Pakistan but it was thought the subsequent treatment and a good snooze would see him right.
Norton, who played 27 tests between 1971-77, has seen rugby players suffer all sorts of injuries but rarely heard of anyone being wounded by just lying in their scratcher.
❏ It's confirmed: they do things a little different in Auckland.
Since arriving at the Blues head coach John Kirwan has lit-up Eden Park with his snappy dress sense and before they played the Crusaders last month he took the sideline microphone to address the crowd.
That is surely a first for a New Zealand rugby coach.
Now his organisation is reported to have a barista on standby at their Auckland training base.
No longer do the Blues players don't have to wander far for their next coffee hit.
How excited are you about the 2014 Commonwealth Games?Related story: After the hype, time to let the Games begin