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Hames was not re-signed by the Chiefs for the 2020 Super Rugby season, having struggled with concussion issues over the past two seasons.
The 10-test All Blacks prop hasn't played a Super Rugby match since the Chiefs' 2017 semifinal against the Crusaders, with his health issues putting an abrupt halt to his rapid rise.
Hames earned his All Blacks debut in 2016 after a breakout season in the Chiefs' pack. His selection at the time was questioned by some, and Hames made headlines at a media session when he called out a journalist who had questioned his ability. However, he proved his place and earned 10 caps through 2016 and 2017.
He also played for the Highlanders in 2014 and 2015.
Speaking about Hames' absence from the squad this year, Chiefs forwards coach Neil Barnes said the 31-year-old prop had "to put things in priority".
"I don't think it's a secret that he had concussion issues and he went through the processes of trying to get right," Barnes said.
"Your health and your whole life in front of you, he's probably made the right decision. We would have loved to have had him back, but we're certainly not going to put people in a position where it affects the rest of their well being.
"He's come back in other areas; he's a talented individual as you'll see in his work on TV, so good on him."
As well as being unavailable for the Chiefs over the past two years, Hames hasn't featured for Tasman at the Mitre 10 Cup level either but has tried his hand in the commentary booth.
Hames told the Herald in a statement: "it's been a frustrating two years learning and applying concussion recovery protocols with slow progress. However, progress is progress and I am hoping that it keeps going to the point where I can be in a position to play again".