Wellington - All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will play his first game in more than seven months this weekend when he turns out for club side Christchurch, officials said on Tuesday.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup winner embarked on a sabbatical last December, travelling the world and giving his body a break in the hope of extending his career through to the 2015 tournament.
Christchurch coach Matt Mustchin said he was expecting a big crowd to see the 32-year-old in his first appearance for the club since 2008.
"It's not only great for us, but all of New Zealand rugby to finally see him back out on the field," Mustchin told Radio Sport.
The 116-Test veteran's return raises the prospect of him playing for the Crusaders in their Super Rugby finals campaign.
However, his priority will be ensuring he is fit to resume the captain's duties for the All Blacks in the opening Rugby Championship fixture against Australia on August 17.
The sabbatical has allowed McCaw to rest niggling injuries, including a troublesome bone in his foot that caused problems throughout the 2011 World Cup.