Could James O'Connor go from being a Pirate or a Ram to a World Cup Wallaby next year?
Apparently, yes. As Super Rugby offers for the exiled former Wallaby appear to be drying up, Shute Shield club West Harbour could be O'Connor's last chance to crack Australia's World Cup squad next year.
Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver backed Ewen McKenzie's stance that he would not lobby any Super Rugby clubs to sign the 44-Test outside back.
But he also confirmed that O'Connor needed only to be playing rugby "domestically" to be eligible for a Test call-up.
"He doesn't actually need to find a home in Super Rugby; he could come back and play grade rugby," Pulver said.
"He could come back and play for [West Harbour] so it becomes a question of how badly does he want it?"
O'Connor signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with West Harbour last June, before the Rebels pulled out of re-signing their playmaker and O'Connor decided to move offshore.
West Harbour president Tony Horrocks said the two parties had put their deal on hold while O'Connor played in Europe but had remained on good terms.
Horrocks said the Pirates would welcome O'Connor with open arms, but that the 25-year-old would also be a star signing for new National Rugby Championship franchise the Greater Sydney Rams.
"The club would be more than willing to bring him back into the country and obviously into the national competition if he wants to be a part of it," Horrocks said.
"He would be excellent in a Rams uniform for sure. From a club's perspective he always fits in really well and you don't walk away from that sort of talent."
There is the small matter of remuneration, of course. As one of the highest paid Australian players at the time of his departure, it is difficult to imagine O'Connor coming home for a few free chicken dinners at Club Burwood each week.
To which the big man, Bill, said: "I think at the time it was the right thing to release him from his contract, but I have no doubt that he can get himself to a point where he can be a constructive and very successful member of the Australian rugby community. We would welcome him with open arms but the ball is in his court."
Where's the transparency?
Michael Cheika's self-imposed media ban continued this week, even after the resolution of his SANZAR misconduct case.
The Waratahs coach was handed a suspended six-month ban with a warning to toe the line until the end of August next year lest the suspension be activated.
There was also a $6000 costs bill and a demand for a written apology. But the threat of a ban is the big one, regardless of whether it takes effect now or not at all.
The message it sends is that Cheika is on his very last warning with SANZAR. No wonder his reluctance to say anything to the media.
But should it be this way? It is difficult to run a critical eye over the governing body's judicial process when SANZAR will not release the transcript of the hearings.
Its media release this week was extraordinarily detailed but also selective. It appeared to take into account not only a written warning issued to Cheika last season but also his previous misdemeanours in Europe.
Hold on, what? In what way are the charges from another so-called jurisdiction at all relevant to whether he is guilty of abusing a television cameraman?
There is no doubt Cheika has been his own worst enemy at times and should have learned by now where the line is in Super Rugby and how to walk it.
But the allegations SANZAR made in its media release this week made it sound – again, there is nothing on the public record we can reference to test this – suspiciously like the governing body wanted to punish Cheika and was prepared to dredge up all manner of incidents to make that happen.
In the meantime, a coach almost universally respected in his home market – ironically for his plain-speaking, often fiery commentary – is now denying Waratahs' fans his voice.
Nice work if you can get it
Fascinating news from The Breakdown's colleague Brad Walter that the ARU is poaching league players for their women's sevens squad.
Walter reports in Friday's Sydney Morning Herald that the ARU was offering league players $700 a week and $5000 per World Series tournament to come across to rugby.
It is by no means a motza but apparently better than nothing, which is what league is offering its female players in the Women's All Stars and Indigenous All Stars.
League Test fullback Sam Hammond, who will play in the curtain-raiser for Friday's Test match between the Kangaroos and Kiwis, has been asked to make the switch.
If she takes up the ARU's offer, Hammond would join former Jillaroos teammate Emma Tonegato in the sevens side, which is one ambitious tournament win away from becoming Australia's first World Series winners.