With Northland rugby legend Rene Ranger reportedly heading to France, the Northland Rugby Union has put the call out to locals to replace him.
Northland Rugby Union chief executive officer Jeremy Parkinson said if the hard-running centre was to head overseas it would be a massive loss for the Taniwha.
``We're on the lookout trying to find a replacement for him long-term,'' said Parkinson. ``There's plenty of opportunity there for locals to put their hands up. But at the moment Rene [Ranger] is our No1 centre, if he's fit and available.''
Northland rugby fans should not be alarmed for the upcoming ITM Cup as the 26-year-old still has a one-year contract with the Taniwha, he said.
Parkinson said Ranger provided the Taniwha with pulling power in drawing crowds.
However, Parkinson added Ranger wasn't the key to maintaining the current 5000 supporters who turn out for home matches. He said having a team with a high saturation of local players would help maintain their current fan base.
There is still confusion over whether Ranger has actually signed to play for French club Montpellier, with Ranger saying he was open to overseas offers but had not signed any deal as he still retained his dream of adding to his three All Black caps.
``I have still signed with the NZRU for a year, still playing for Northland and just hope to have a good season,'' he said.
Northlanders took to Facebook yesterday to voice their concerns and confusion over the potential loss of Ranger.
Ngamotu James Hahipene-Hartley said on the Northern Advocate Facebook page he would support Ranger if he was to head to France.
``There is a big queue of people lining up for the spot he's going for in the AB's. So head off and gain experience then come back it might pay off for him in the quest for that black jersey,'' Hahipene-Hartley said.
Other commentators wished Ranger well in his journey if he was to leave the winterless north, although admitting he would be a loss to the region.
Despite Ranger's off-field dramas, there is greater immediate interest in his midfield battle with Robbie Fruean tonight as the Blues look to consolidate their opening win and the Crusaders make their first appearance for the season.
Who will be the All Blacks centre is already provoking interest after Richard Kahui's decision to shift to Japan, Tamati Ellison's shoulder surgery and Conrad Smith's plans for a sabbatical.
See northernadvocate.co.nz to vote in a poll on whether or not you support Ranger's move.