Highlanders flanker Liam Squire was a notable absentee from Steve Hansen's All Black squad for the Rugby Championship named on Tuesday, with the All Blacks' coach revealing that the hard-hitting flanker made himself unavailable for selection.
Squire has been Hansen's go-to man in the six jersey, when fit, since the retirement of All Black great Jerome Kaino and has been battling with injuries in recent seasons but returned in fine form for the Highlanders in the latter stages of Super Rugby.
Squire who has been battling with personal issues recently made himself unavailable for selection for the All Blacks' 39-man squad for the opening matches of the Rugby Championship.
Seen as the All Blacks' first-choice No 6, the 28-year-old told Hansen that he didn't feel like he was ready to pull on the black jersey.
"Mate, I don't think I'm ready to play international football," Hansen recalled of their conversation.
"I said 'okay', and we had a bit of a chat about that which I won't repeat. At the end of it we agreed and I said 'righto, that's a pretty courageous conversation, well done, you get back on the park and play some footy and we'll make a decision from there'."
The 23 test All Black had earlier this season been a late withdrawal from the Highlanders' clash against the Jaguares - and their resulting tour of South Africa - with what coach Aaron Mauger described as "personal family issues".
That followed a rough run of injuries, which kept Squire out of Super Rugby for the majority of the season.
Squire likely to return to the All Blacks squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup and it is likely to be his final games in the black jersey, having signed a two-year deal to join Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes after the showpiece event.