Wellington - All Blacks warhorse Keven Mealamu will set a new record for Super Rugby appearances after the Blues on Wednesday named him in this weekend's team to face the Lions.
The 35-year-old hooker will contest his 163rd Super Rugby match, surpassing the mark set by former Waratahs and Reds lock Nathan Sharpe.
Mealamu, who is also the second most capped All Black with 123 Test appearances, made his Super Rugby debut in 2000, when the competition was still known as the Super 12.
He said his enthusiasm remained undimmed, although there have been hints he will not play on in 2016, when the current 15-team format expands to a Super 18.
"I'm playing with guys that when I was playing my first game were probably about five years old, so that probably puts it in perspective," he told reporters.
"But I think I arrive here with the same energy and the same enthusiasm that they arrive with so I think we're still on a level playing field."
Aside from a brief stint with the Chiefs, Mealamu has played all his Super Rugby with the Blues, helping them to a title in 2003.
He has not played for the Aucklanders so far this season and they have slumped to a 3-0 losing record, which coach John Kirwan said he hoped Mealamu could help turn around.
"He exemplifies all of the qualities that we strive for at the Blues in desire, hard work, resilience, loyalty and integrity," Kirwan said.
"He will bring a real lift to the team and I am sure the boys will want him to celebrate his milestone with a good performance."
The highlight of Mealamu's international career so far has been winning the 2011 World Cup with the All Blacks.
His Test swansong is set to come in England later this year, when he will be part of the New Zealand squad aiming to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups.
15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Hamish Northcott
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Harold Vorster, 11. Sampie Mastriet, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain),7. Warwick Tecklenburg, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Martin Muller, 4. Franco Mostert, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Corne Fourie
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. Robert Kruger, 20. Derick Minnie, 21. Faf de Klerk, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Howard Mnisi