Former All Blacks fullback Ben Smith has ruled returning to the Highlanders in the new Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, however he will return to play Dunedin club rugby.
Smith, 33, retired from Test rugby after last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan, leaving New Zealand for French club side Pau.
However, with a number of overseas based stars returning to New Zealand during the global Covid-19 pandemic, the likes of Nehe Milner-Skudder and Sam Whitelock have taken up deals to play in the new competition, beginning on June 13.
While he's back from France, Smith won't be one of the former All Blacks to take up any kind of short-term contract.
However he did say he'll go back to playing some club rugby for Green Island.
"Super Rugby Aotearoa looks like a great concept," Smith wrote on Instagram today.
"I'm looking forward to supporting the Highlanders and watching them give it a crack. I'm not sure where the speculation has come from but I won't be playing in this year's competition.
"I'm looking forward to getting alongside my club side in Green Island and getting back to grassroots where it all started."
Smith played 153 games for the Highlanders, featuring for more than 10 years with the Dunedin Super Rugby side.