In form Auckland first five-eighth Gareth Anscombe was off limits to the media today as speculation grows about his Super Rugby future.
The 21-year-old was the Blues' first-choice 10 this season but ONE News understands that he is no longer a protected player in Sir John Kirwan's franchise.
Anscombe responded to the rumours on Wednesday by leading Auckland to a 43-32 win over Taranaki, landing a perfect 8/8 at goal, and collecting a personal haul of 20 points.
The talented 10 now leads all scorers in the ITM Cup with 95 points ahead of the top-of-the-table clash against Wellington at Eden Park tomorrow.
His form has been so compelling that his management team is confident that he will be playing Super Rugby somewhere next season and won't follow his father Mark, who is the former coach of Auckland, to his new base at Ulster.
But all the speculation is of no interest to current Auckland coach Wayne Pivac.
"There's certainly been no talk around Gareth at all in our side. The team itself is very motivated to do well," Pivac told ONE News .
Pivac meanwhile has made three changes to his starting XV for tomorrow's clash.
Two of the changes are injury enforced, with Ben Lam coming on to the wing to replace George Moala who broke his leg in the win against Taranaki.
While Moala has unfortunately been ruled out for the rest of the ITM Cup season, in a positive it was just the fibula he fractured which will see him miss six weeks but return in time for the Investec Super Rugby competition.
With Peter Saili going under the knife to repair a broken thumb, Joe Edwards will make his first start of the season at number eight.
It is a great birthday present for Edwards who turns 19 years of age today, and Pivac said the youngster was looking forward to the challenge.
"He's come on in games so far and made a great impact and done well. He gets an opportunity to start so that's a fresh challenge for him," Pivac said.
"If you look at Ardie Savea in the Wellington team, he's 18 years of age so it just goes to show this competition is throwing up some great young players and it'll be great to see them go head to head."
With a short turnaround following Wednesday's game, Ofa Tu'ungafasi has been named on the bench, with Angus Ta'avao switching to tighthead as Pauliasi Manu starts at loosehead.
Pivac said tomorrow night's match would be a big test for his team.
"It's going to be a huge challenge for a number of reasons," he said.
"None bigger I guess than the short turn around but certainly that comes down to our preparation in a short space of time, it's really a mental attitude and the players are aware of that. Other teams have turned around good performances and there's no reason we can't.
"The fact that we're playing at home is big for this team with a lot of young players, they love playing here and so hopefully that will negate the freshness that Wellington will bring to the game but they're a strong side and they have quality players."
Auckland: Charles Piutau, Ben Lam, Malakai Fekitoa, Hadleigh Parkes (c), Dave Thomas, Gareth Anscombe, Alby Mathewson; Joe Edwards, Sean Polwart, Steven Luatua, Liaki Moli, Andrew van der Heijden, Angus Ta'avao, Tom McCartney, Pauliasi Manu.
Reserves: Nathan Vella, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Nathan Hughes, Daniel Braid, Auvasa Faleali'i, Simon Hickey, Lolagi Visinia.