Scotland target John Hardie, of Otago Highlanders, has made clear his rugby priorities amidst growing speculation about a central contract offer from BT Murrayfield.
The flanker, who qualifies for Scotland through grandparents, hints he would be open to discussions at some stage but makes it clear his ambition was always to be an All Black.
Interviewed by New Zealnd media today ahead of the new Super 15 season, Hardie was put on the spot about international aspirations.
He said: “That [Scotland] is always an option but I want to fulfil my potential in New Zealand.
“I’ve always aspired to be an All Black but rugby can be pretty cruel at times. You just have to deal with what is dished up.”
The conjecture comes at a time when Scottish rugby is divided over the inclusion of another “kilted Kiwi”, Hugh Blake, in the extended Scotland squad before he has made a professional appearance in this country.
Also, a string of South Africans are due to become eligible to represent Scotland on residency grounds this summer.
Unlike Blake, who has yet to appear in Super 15, the more experienced Hardie is regarded as a Highlanders stalwart.
Scotland tomorrow name their team to face France in Paris on Saturday – the first RBS Six Nations game under new coach Vern Cotter, a New Zealander.