Former All Blacks and Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden is in line for a shock return to the Chiefs for next year's Super Rugby season.
The 30-year-old will finish his stint at French club Montpellier later this year and is set to join Japanese Top League club Kobe Kobelco Steelers after that, however Stuff.co.nz has reported that he has a window of free time before that deal commences and that the Chiefs are in advanced negotiations to have him in their squad for 2020.
The 2020 Top League season does clash with Super Rugby next year, having been pushed back due to Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup. However, it's understood that Cruden's two-year contract with Kobe - who the Chiefs have an official partnership with - doesn't actually start until the following Japanese season, in early 2021, with the club still having one Dan Carter, and fellow Kiwi playmaker Hayden Parker, on their books for another campaign.
This will allow Cruden to have one full season with the Chiefs under Warren Gatland.
Beauden Barrett's departure to the Blues has the Hurricanes in the market for a first five, however Stuff understands it was the Chiefs or no-one for Cruden, who did play his first two Super seasons with the Canes, but feels major loyalty to the Chiefs, who really were the making of him.