New Zealand flanker Jerry Collins may have played his final game for the Hurricanes and possibly his last match in New Zealand.
The powerful loose forward, who has played 48 Tests for the All Blacks, kicked the final conversion in Saturday’s Super 14 semi-final loss to the Crusaders, an honour generally reserved for stalwarts calling it quits.
Stand-in captain Andrew Hore also appeared to confirm as much when asked why Collins had been allowed to convert replacement prop Neemia Tialata’s last-gasp try.
“You can read into it what you like. What does it mean when most people take the last kick?” said Hore.
Speculation has been rife that Collins is set for the northern hemisphere and he did nothing to dispel that earlier this month when it was reported in Britain he had asked for an early release from his New Zealand Rugby Union contract, which runs until the end of 2009.
While he denied asking for an early release, he made no secret of his desire to play overseas and said he was weighing up his options after a career with Wellington and Hurricanes which has spanned nearly a decade.
However, after Saturday’s loss the 27-year-old was tightlipped about his future.
“I don’t want to talk about it really because we have just lost a semi-final and everyone is a bit down,” he said.
“The last thing you want to be talking about is myself when a group of 36 has slogged it out during the year.
“We are pretty down and it’s a team thing tonight.”
Collins has become one of the most feared players in Super rugby since making his Hurricanes debut in the Super 12 in 2001.
He first represented the All Blacks against Argentina in Christchurch in 2001.
Should he call time on his international career, his final action in the black jersey will have been the disappointing loss to France in last year’s World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff.