Blues director of coaching David Young has revealed that next season's regional squad may be strengthened by the signing of two top quality All Black forwards.
Talks have been held with Reuben Thorne and Xavier Rush as the Blues' recruitment campaign builds up a head of steam.
Young said, "We have spoken to Rush and Thorne. Both are weighing up their options at the moment and their possible selection for the All Blacks against the Lions is the key factor."
Thirty-year-old Thorne has played 41 tests for New Zealand and led the side in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. At 6' 3" and 17-stone he is a mobile lock forward with vast experience in the Super 12s for the Crusaders. He also toured Europe with the All Blacks last autumn, was on the replacements bench against Wales and played against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Rush (27) was among the opposition that day. His eight caps at number 8 and flanker include the 36-12 defeat of England in Auckland last June, after which he retained his place in the side for the Tri-Nations series. He has captained Auckland Blues in the Super 12s. He also weighs in at 17-stone and is nearly 6' 2" tall.
Young added, "These are players of the highest quality. That is what I have been looking for. They are also players that bring huge leadership qualities to any side."