Beauden Barrett's Japanese switch hasn't caught the Blues wrong-footed, says coach Leon MacDonald, with the Auckland side already casting one eye to the future.
Barrett, 29, has signed a short term deal with Japanese side Suntory, leaving New Zealand and the Blues in December to take up the lucrative contract.
The news will leave a sour taste in the mouths of Blues fans, with Barrett a key cog in their Super Rugby Aotearoa run, currently sitting top of the competition standings with three wins from three.
Speaking to Stuff, though, coach MacDonald revealed that Barrett's move was already known to the Blues, having already planned for his departure.
The Blues already boasting options Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta and Harry Plummer at first-five, while All Blacks great Dan Carter is also currently with the Auckland side.
"We knew last year this clause and this option were there and we expected it to happen," MacDonald said.
"We've been planning for 2021 without him, hence having a lot of young 10s there and having guys like Dan Carter around to help build our depth.
"We've invested in Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta and Otere Black. We feel comfortable we've got our bases covered pretty well."
Barrett's Japanese deal will also see him remain eligible for the All Blacks in 2021, building towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.