The immediate playing future of Ruby Tui, one of the Black Ferns’ stars during their recent World Cup triumph, remains in doubt.
Tui, 31, will not be available for the start of Super Rugby Aupiki, which starts next month, as she has yet to decide what is next in her career.
She will instead commentate for Sky Sports, a role she has fulfilled in the past.
In November, Tui was listed as a “to be confirmed” when the Chiefs Manawa squad was named, and a New Zealand Rugby spokesperson has confirmed that she will not feature in Super Rugby Aupiki after doing so in last year’s inaugural competition.
And her manager, Dan Sing, told Stuff no “key decisions” had been made on her future and that she was “super excited” about returning to commentary.
Tui last year stepped away from New Zealand’s sevens programme in order to concentrate on making the Black Ferns squad for the World Cup and it probably worked out better than she could have hoped for.
A wing who also played fullback during the tournament, Tui quickly became indispensable and her off-field charisma attracted legions of new fans to the game.
One of the more memorable parts of the Black Ferns’ dramatic victory over England in the final was Tui’s post-match speech to the sell-out Eden Park crowd.
However, despite hinting at a slightly bitter departure from the Black Ferns sevens, Tui will not have closed the door on a return and next year’s sevens tournament at the Paris Olympics may be a goal.
The 15s World Cup in England in 2025 may also be on her to-do list.
Tui last year won World Rugby’s breakthrough player of the year award and said in her acceptance speech at the glittering awards evening in Monaco: “It's amazing to be here, it's a whirlwind, I'm so proud of New Zealand. It's such an honour to win this award, at 27 and a half years old, I think I've set a record for a rookie.”
New Zealand Rugby’s general manager of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum said in November of Tui's involvement in Super Rugby: “we’re giving her some time post a pretty hectic year in the Rugby World Cup to determine what she wants to do in the future."
Asked whether that meant a possible return to sevens, he replied: “She’s taking time to think about what the right next step is for her career. That could be sevens, that could be obviously 15s still."