Dropped winger Doug Howlett is expected to make the All Blacks' November tour of Britain and Ireland, according to his agent.
The experienced Howlett was surprisingly left out of New Zealand's squad for the Tri-Nations last month, as coach Graham Henry opted to recall Fijian-born flyer Joe Rokocoko instead.
And while the 26-year-old's last cap came in the All Blacks' 21-3 first Test defeat of the Lions back in June, agent David Jones expects Howlett to be back in harness for the Kiwis' "Grand Slam" tour opener against Wales on November 5. Ireland face the All Blacks seven days later at Lansdowne Road.
"Our expectation is that Doug would be in the end-of-year tour, but Mr Henry makes the final decision," Jones told irishrugby.ie.
The fact that Howlett's current NZ Rugby Union contract expires later this year has only served to heighten speculation that the Auckland speedster, who boasts an international record of 36 tries in 47 Tests, could be tempted to move to the Northern Hemisphere.
With all four Welsh regions - the Scarlets, Ospreys, Blues and Dragons - reportedly courting him, Jones has dismissed that speculation as "paper talk."
"Yes, at this point in time, it is simply paper talk. This always occurs when a leading All Black is "spelled", and especially in a year in which his contract expires," he admitted.
"We have invited the NZRU to let us know of its intentions with respect to Doug, and negotiations are expected with them shortly."
Meanwhile, former Ireland coach Warren Gatland made a winning return to former club Waikato last night as the Mooloo men won their NPC opener 30-6 against Taranaki.
Waikato pulled clear in the second half, having led 10-6 in Hamilton. Soon-to-arrive Ulster scrum-half and Ireland hopeful Isaac Boss was amongst the scorers, bursting through a lineout to start and finish off a 53rd-minute attack to the try line.