According to reports in the New Zealand media, Sonny Bill Williams is poised to take up a contract in Japan and may only play for the All Blacks again in 2014.
Williams has been in great form for the Chiefs this season and produced the goods at Test level in the recent series whitewash of Ireland, but he might not take part in the all-new Rugby Championship at all.
The Herald on Sunday reports that the former rugby league star is about to announce a one-season deal with with Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights after which he plans to move back to rugby league, most likely with the Sydney Roosters, in early 2013.
It is believed that Williams intends returning to rugby union in 2014 to play for the Chiefs and attempt to make the All Blacks squad for the 2015 World Cup.
If he has signed for the Knights then Williams will have to be available for them from August 30, which means that he could be selected for the All Blacks' first two matches in the Rugby Championship against Australia, although that seems unlikely.