Warriors wing Manu Vatuvei will make his long awaited playing return in Saturday's NRL clash against the Brisbane Broncos.
Vatuvei has not played in the last month but the 215-game veteran will start on the left wing against last year's grand finalists at Mt Smart Stadium, having overcome various personal issues following his involvement in the prescription pills and energy drinks scandal that has engulfed the club over the past month.
The 30-year-old revealed to the Weekend Herald he had come close to quitting the NRL to protect his family from the fallout, when he saw the toll the negative attention was having on his family - wife Jenny Ka and their daughters Makayla, Savannah, Eva and baby Aaliyah.
Despite being physically ready to play again, last week Vatuvei was unsure he would be mentally prepared for this week's match, but sources tonight confirmed he will take the field in the crucial round 13 game against the third-placed Broncos.
"Physically I'm there," he told Tony Veitch in a wide-ranging interview on Newstalk ZB last week.
"Mentally, there's a question if I will be ready. If I'm not ready, I don't want to let the team down and I don't want to go out there and play if I'm mentally not strong. We'll see how things go next week and make a call then."
His inclusion comes as a boost to the besieged Warriors, with consecutive defeats to Penrith and Canberra leaving them slumped down in 14th place on the premiership ladder, with just four wins from 11 matches.
The 29-test Kiwis international was one of six Warriors players dropped to reserve grade and stood down from test selection as punishment for breaking team protocol during a late night out following the embarrassing 42-0 Anzac Day defeat to Melbourne Storm.
He was forced to take a week's medical leave when pushed to "breaking point" after making an emotional social media post and then reacting angrily to criticism from online trolls.
He last took the field in the second tier Intrust Super Premiership match against the Canterbury Bulldogs on May 1. The following day he was granted leave and returned to Warriors training on May 9, but remained unavailable for selection for the side's last two matches.
His prolonged absence contributed to speculation last week that he was set to leave the club, with rumours he was being shopped around to English Super League clubs and Japanese rugby sides, but Vatuvei last week reiterated his determination to finish his career at the Warriors, the club he joined as a 14-year-old.
"Definitely, that's my goal," he said. "That's where I want to finish up at, with the Warriors."
While Vatuvei re-joins the side, uncertainty looms over the make-up of the rest of the team, with several players under pressure to retain their spots following the listless 38-12 loss to the Raiders in New Plymouth.
Wholesale changes were predicted in the immediate aftermath, but the likes of prop Ben Matulino and centre Blake Ayshford, who had unhappy outings, may be granted a reprieve as they come off a bye round looking to resurrect their finals hopes.