The All Black selectors have been left reeling, after the shock withdrawal by Sonny-Bill Williams from the All Blacks team on the eve of the Rugby World Cup.
Williams failed to turn up to training yesterday, prompting speculation in the media that he had been dumped from the squad.
But Williams’ manager Khoder Nasser last night confirmed that Williams had walked out.
Mr Nasser said the withdrawal was a consequence of the difficulty Williams was experiencing juggling his All Blacks commitments with Fashion Week duties.
“We tried to negotiate a reasonable solution with the Rugby Union,” said Mr Nasser.
“We offered a deal that would allow Sonny-Bill to continue with the team, and our only request was that he be allowed to wear a Zambesi top during tests and training sessions.
“We have been more that reasonable, but the Rugby Union and team management have been intransigent and unreasonable. Now we move on.”
It is not clear whether Williams will stay in rugby, return to rugby league, or take his career in another direction.
Williams has previously expressed an interest in joining the lucrative chess circuit.
In June Williams told journalists that he had been in talks with both the World Chess Federation (WCF) and World Chess Organisation (WCO) about a potential career in the high-pressure sport.
The WCF and WCO are both known to be keen on attracting high-profile stars, in an effort to shake off some of the negative images that have grown up around the sport.
The WCF last month signed up star boxer Wladimir Klitschko, and his reunification chess match with the WCO-contracted fellow boxer David Haye is expected to break pay-TV viewing records.
Last month Williams’ manager also travelled to the United Kingdom to explore the possibility of signing Williams as a midfielder for Premier League football team Manchester City.
Williams has also been seen talking with lawn bowls officials, and was pictured last week having coffee with Sir Peter Jackson.
Speculation has also been growing that Williams will seek a career in local body politics. He has long been outspoken on local drainage and building consent issues.
But Mr Nasser would not confirm what Williams’ next career move might be.
“We are looking at all options,” said Mr Nasser. “At the end of the day, it’s all about what’s best for Sonny-Bill.
“If anyone has any good ideas then I’d love to hear them.”