Shaun Johnson has entertained the notion of moving to Japanese rugby but the off-contract Sharks playmaker says the 13-player code remains his preference.
The 30-year-old, who is set to return from a hamstring injury and play his 200th NRL match against the Titans in Coffs Harbour on Sunday, reiterated "all options are certainly open at this point".
Johnson expressed his love for rugby league - saying it will be "at the forefront" of his decision - and confirmed incoming Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon has "shown some interest in me".
But a lucrative stint in Japan also holds some appeal.
A report that Johnson recently met with former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who now works for the Sydney Roosters, fuelled discussion that he was keen to explore his options in union.
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"It's not heading back to New Zealand to play rugby or anything like that," Johnson said after training on Wednesday.
"It would only be to head to Japan if that opportunity came up. But that was just a bit of an interest of a conversation.
"It was never anything like, 'Yep, let's lock it in'. It was just talking to the right people to see if it was a possibility, how that could look.
"It's really nothing to blow up ... You're looking for a job, you get as much information as you can about what's out there.
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"It's no different for us [athletes]."
Johnson, who led the Telstra Premiership for try assists in 2020 despite an Achilles injury curtailing his season before the finals, has only played three games this year but is confident he can recapture strong form.
He said he's had a "good chat" with Fitzgibbon.
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"I've chatted with a few other people as well," he added.
"That's where it's at. There's really nothing been put in front of me that I'm like, OK, I'm going to do that. It's all up in the air.
"I think certainly once I get back playing some good footy - footy that I know I'm capable of - then that sort of stuff will take care of itself.
"I haven't been playing so [contract talk] hasn't been too much of a distraction. I've been flying under the radar a bit. But now that I'm getting back out into it, I'm pretty sure it might start to spark up."
A fit Johnson looms as a big danger for opposing defences with the game's new rules favouring instinctive halves.
The expansion of the six-again rule, designed to speed up the game, and a crackdown on high contact has resulted in the likes of Sam Walker and Reece Walsh thriving with their off-the-cuff play.
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Johnson's touch football background could come to the fore.
"You can tell the halves in the comp that have played touch before. I can look at them and I go, 'Definitely a touch player or have played touch at some point', but not all halves have that," Johnson said.
"I would probably more say it was the touch background aspect that's allowed me just to look for space and execute on that space, as opposed to growing up in an Australian system or Kiwi system.
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"I don't see why [more players from a touch background can't play NRL]. Obviously, you can't just be an out-and-out touch player because there are so many different elements of being an NRL player.
"But I think it's a really good base to build your game off. Some of the stuff you can't actually coach ... you just pick it up over years and years and years of playing touch footy combined with league.
"We played league in the winter and we played touch in the summer. So it was just all year round merging the two skills, merging the two sports and you get products like myself, [Kalyn] Ponga, Benji [Marshall] - these boys that have got that good mix."