The NZRU is leaving the door open for Wayne Smith to return to coaching the All Blacks.
Smith's rejected overtures from England rugby to stay in New Zealand, casting doubt over whether he'll coach internationally again.
CEO Steve Tew says there's still a very real chance he could mentor the All Blacks again, if he wanted to.
"It's possible. So we wouldn't rule that out but nor are we signalling that it's a definite either and nor is he. Smithy wouldn't want us to be speculating about who might be in the All Black environment when the current group are yet to even have a game."
Tew says they think of Smith as one of the key coaches involved in the game in New Zealand.