Former All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams could return to the Chiefs as early as next year.
That is the word from the Hamilton-based franchise's boss Dave Rennie who revealed that the Chiefs are holding open a midfield spot for the 2014 season and the 27-year-old is the player who they have in mind to fill the gap.
Williams is currently playing in the NRL for the Sydney Roosters is considered almost a certainty to return to the Chiefs for the World Cup year of 2015 but he could make his switch as early as next year.
"At this stage we haven't filled up our midfield roster so if he was available we'd certainly jump at that opportunity," Rennie told APNZ of next season.
With Richard Kahui out for the season due to a shoulder injury and set to further his careerin Japan, the Chiefs have used Bundee Aki, Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai and Andrew Horrell in midfield this season.
Apart from Ngatai, all of the abovementioned players are on the small side and Williams' imposing physical presence will be a huge asset if he returns to the Chiefs.
Earlier this year, some of the Chiefs' management met Williams ahead of their Round 10 clash in Sydney but Rennie's confirmation that he is leaving a spot open for Williams next season is most significant.
"We spent quite a bit of time with him," Rennie said.
"It was Test week and the Roosters weren't playing. He's been in bloody good nick and in good spirits.
"He enjoys the boys, he spent a lot of time around the hotel and so on, so it was good to catch up with him from that point of view."
Rennie said although Williams was concentrating on his career with the Roosters, there were positive vibes about a return to the Chiefs from him and his controversial manager Khoder Nasser.
"One thing with Khoder is that I really enjoy working with him because he is straight up," added Rennie.
"If he says something is going to happen then it happens and I find those sorts of people bloody good to deal with.
"He was outstanding to work with last year. I know people paint a picture of him being difficult but he's doing his best for his client, I guess.
"We found him really easy to work with. He's not greedy and he's not difficult in any way."