All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith's international season may be over after he elected to stay home in New Zealand for the birth of his second child, while captain Sam Cane is in a race to be fit for the team's northern hemisphere tour.
Test centurion Smith will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship in Australia and may not link up with the squad when they head north to the United States and Europe, he said on Wednesday.
Smith's baby is not due until November but he was concerned he would not be able to return home because of the "increasing unlikelihood" of being allocated a spot in hotel quarantine as part of New Zealand's Covid-19 restrictions.
He will instead play in New Zealand's domestic NPC competition.
"The door isn't completely closed to me joining the (All Blacks) team for the northern tour if our baby comes early," the 32-year-old said.
"In this environment anything can happen so I've got an open mind.
"At the moment though, I just want to focus on being here with my family and enjoying that time and playing for Manawatu. I can't wait to get the boots on again."
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Flanker Cane, out of action since March due to a torn pectoral muscle and other complications, is training with his provincial side but may not be ready to play for four weeks, Bay of Plenty coach Daryl Gibson told New Zealand radio.
Out-half Richie Mo'unga arrived in Australia on Wednesday to start a 14-day quarantine, having stayed home for the birth of his child
After the Rugby Championship, New Zealand head to Washington to play the United States on 23 October before embarking on their season-ending tour of Europe with Tests against Wales, Italy, Ireland and France.
The All Blacks, top of the table with three straight wins, play their second match against Argentina in Brisbane on Saturday, following their 39-0 win over the Pumas on the Gold Coast.
New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock also elected to stay home following the birth of his third child rather than join the squad for the Rugby Championship.