Former All Blacks captain Keiran Read has expressed the possibility of running out in the Mitre 10 Cup this year if the season gets off the ground.
Currently signed for Japan Top League side Toyota Verblitz, the 34-year-old has returned to New Zealand after the COVID-19 epidemic forced the cancellation of the rugby season in Japan.
Speaking on Sky Sport's the Pod on Thursday night, Read said he'd be open to the possibility of playing in the National Provincial Competition and was excited by the notion of All Blacks players returning to the competition
"It's a possibility. I think there would need to be a few things that would need to happen. I guess it's more just exciting to think of the All Blacks playing in that competition," Read said. "I remember that's what it was like when I was younger, watching the games on the hill at Pukekohe there and all the All Blacks were playing.
"You got to see a lot of legends of the game playing in that form of footy. It's exciting for the game and hopefully it gets going, just have to wait and see if I'm there or not."
Read is currently signed to a two-year deal with Toyato Verblitz, and while the 2020 season is cancelled, he remains hopeful of returning and taking part in a second season. "We just have to wait and see what happens with borders internationally. The season next year starts in January, so I have a bit of time off which is quite nice in some ways. I'll have to see what happens around quarantines and other things but hopefully I can get back up there and actually play some games for them."
It's unclear who Read would suit up for. The former All Black made 37 appearances for Canterbury but has close ties to Counties where he watched Jonah Lomu play as a young child.
Retiring from international rugby at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the All Blacks have since announced Sam Cane as their new captain. Speaking on the Pod, Read said he was excited to see the Chiefs flanker takeover the leadership position.
"He's a good young man and he's actually been involved with us in terms of our All Blacks leadership group for a number of years, even before the 2015 World Cup.
"He's been earmarked for a while and in the last couple of years he's been a great help to me. He's really grown into his voice and for him it's probably about being himself and really pushing this team forward. I think he's going to do a great job."