Rene Ranger has attempted to downplay speculation he will leave New Zealand rugby to play for Montpellier in the south of France later this year.
"The timing looks odd, but it's not - the European market needs answers now which is why Rene Ranger has reportedly committed to the Top 14 side," New Zealand Herald writer Gregor Paul said.
The rumours are certainly doing their rounds about the centres future and whether or not he has actually committed to the French team. Where there is smoke, there is more often than not fire.
While Ranger admitted his options were open, he claimed a lucrative contract had not been signed and he was committed to New Zealand rugby this year.
"There's rumours but nothing is official yet," Ranger said. "I haven't signed anything yet. A lot of clubs are on the ropes overseas so my options are open. At the moment I'm here with the Blues, signed with the NZRU for a year and still playing for Northland," Ranger told Fairfax NZ News.
With Chiefs centre Richard Kahui announcing his shock move to Japanese club Toshiba, Highlanders utility Tamati Ellison injured and Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith set to take a sabbatical at the end of this season, the All Blacks midfield stocks are suddenly depleted.
Paul mentioned: "While midfield resource is light, it's not non-existent. Ma'a Nonu and Conrad and Ben Smith, barring injury are likely to be available for the June tests and Rugby Championship. By the end of the latter, or maybe sooner, Tamati Ellison is expected to be playing again."
"So Ranger, even should he have a solid season, would be looking at playing a bit part for the national team at best. What becomes increasingly clear is that Ben Smith is a rare talent and almost certainly the natural successor to his namesake," Paul said in his column.
"Montpellier have made the decision easier by their persistence. They have become a serious force in French rugby - making the Top 14 final in 2011 and are in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup," Paul concluded.
New Zealand Herald & Fairfax NZ News