Nick Evans has no regrets over putting Harlequins and his professional career ahead of the All Blacks - even though it means missing out on a home World Cup in New Zealand.
The 30-year-old has been in imperious form for the Amlin Challenge Cup finalists and is widely regarded as the best man to understudy Dan Carter in the All Blacks' World Cup squad.
But the New Zealand Rugby Union's rules prevent All Blacks coach Graham Henry from selecting any overseas-based players, for fear it would spark an exodus. Evans said: "I knew the rules. The opportunity to go back would have been great but what do I do then? All of a sudden I would be competing for the same spots with everyone else."
He added: "I caught up with Graham and (NZRU chief executive) Steve Tew when they were over. We had a chat and a laugh about it.
"It is the life of a professional sportsman that money drives a lot the way you think. We are not bankers, we can't be bankers until we are 65 and earn ridiculous amounts of money.
"We have got until we are 35 or 36 if we are lucky. That is it. We go from the top of our game to the bottom with everyone else. We have to look after ourselves.
"I had played 16 Tests and been to a World Cup. I had ticked all the boxes I wanted to with the All Blacks.
"Looking back I felt I had played as well as I could and I didn't have any regrets I had left anything behind."