Former All Blacks five-eighth Aaron Cruden is returning to the Chiefs after signing a one-season Super Rugby deal to play under coach Warren Gatland but a Test comeback appears unlikely.
Cruden, 30, has signed for the 2020 season, a window that falls between contracts with French club Montpellier and Japanese outfit Kobe Kobelco Steelers.
While a season of Super Rugby would make Cruden eligible to add to his 50 Tests for New Zealand, his subsequent Japanese contract appears set to discount any prospect of an international return.
Playing his third season for Montpellier, Cruden was excited by the prospect of a return to the team at which was a central part of twin titles in 2012 and 2013 before his departure in 2017.
Gatland suggested Cruden would slot into the first-choice playmaking role, potentially leaving game-breaking All Black Damian McKenzie to be restored as the team's fullback.
McKenzie shone at five-eighth for the Chiefs in 2018 but a serious early-season knee injury ruined this year's campaign and robbed him of World Cup selection.
"As a player he (Cruden) has a proven ability to create opportunities with his boot and can spark up an attack from anywhere on the park," Gatland said.
"We are fortunate and privileged to have him return and I will look forward to coaching him in the coming season."
Cruden was co-captain of the Chiefs for four seasons.
He scored 322 Test points but for much of his international career played in the shadow of All Blacks great Dan Carter.