Sonny Bill Williams is set to make his Super Rugby debut for the Blues this weekend.
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner has been named on bench for Saturday's clash against the Highlanders.
Williams hasn't played a game of rugby since the World Cup final in 2015. He suffered an achilles injury at the Olympics in August last year while playing in the opening pool game for the All Blacks Sevens.
The 31-year-old signed a three year deal for the Auckland-based franchise in June last year.
"It's great to be back. I'm really excited," Williams told media today.
"It's been a long journey but a really blessed one to get away from footy for a bit. Really itching to get back out there."
"I wake up and I'm really excited. And love coming to training and sometimes you've been tired because you're changing nappies the night before, but I still love what I do."
Williams said the timing of the injury, early into his first match at the Olympics, was a tough pill to swallow but he quickly turned it into a positive.
"At the start when I got injured I was really down because where I was at the Olympics. But then straight away I changed my mindset to 'Ok this is my body telling me I need a bit of a break. I'm going to be at home with my girls for a bit' and that's where it started."
"Trying to be grateful every day was the key but also making the decision that I was going to come back in better shape before the injury. Time will tell if that will happen but I certainly in a good frame of mind."
In other changes, Scott Scrafton replaces Patrick Tuipulotu at lock who moves to the bench, while Steven Luatua returns from suspension at eight, shifting Jerome Kaino to blindside flanker. Blake Gibson starts at openside.
In the backs George Moala starts at second five with Rieko Ioane at centre. Bryn Gatland has been named as Ihaia West's replacement on the bench.
Blues team to face the Highlanders1 Pauliasi Manu, 2 James Parsons (C), 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5 Scott Scrafton, 6 Jerome Kaino, 7 Blake Gibson, 8 Steven Luatua; 9 Augustine Pulu, 10 Piers Francis, 11 Melani Nanai, 12 George Moala, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14 Matt Duffie, 15 Michael Collins.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.