This week's Super Rugby squad announcements didn't draw many surprises with plenty of senior All Blacks moving on after this year's Rugby World Cup, but the Chiefs have shocked some with omission of a 10-Test prop Kane Hames from their team naming.
The Chiefs announced six props for the 2020 season on Tuesday night, including All Blacks Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli and Angus Ta'avao.
But their fourth All Blacks prop, Hames, was overlooked due to his ongoing issues with concussion that have kept the 31-year-old sidelined for the last two years.
It's been a frustrating two years- Kane Hames
In fact, Hames' last Super Rugby game was against the Crusaders in the 2017 Super Rugby semi-final. Since then, conussion issues have stunted his rapid rise in rugby.
Chiefs assistant coach Neil Barnes told NZ Herald that Hames had to prioritise things which led to the Hamilton-based franchise not re-signing him.
"I don't think it's a secret that he had concussion issues and he went through the processes of trying to get right," Barnes said.
"Your health and your whole life in front of you, he's probably made the right decision. We would have loved to have had him back, but we're certainly not going to put people in a position where it affects the rest of their well being."
Hames told NZ Herald he was slowly making gains.
"It's been a frustrating two years learning and applying concussion recovery protocols with slow progress. However, progress is progress and I am hoping that it keeps going to the point where I can be in a position to play again".
After a breakout season with the Chiefs in 2016, Hames cracked the All Blacks that same year and made his debut off the bench against the Wallabies.
He made headlines again the following year when he challenged a reporter about their article saying he wasn't a renowned scrummager.
While sidelined, that charisma has since served him well in other areas of the game with Hames commentating on Mitre 10 Cup matches.