Former All Black and Blues loose forward Steven Luatua's career at Bristol is still in the starting blocks, but he's already eyeing a World Cup return for 2023.

Few All Blacks have tried to re-establish their test careers after heading overseas. Of those who have tried, some made flying comebacks while a couple failed to kick on.

Read more: Steven Luatua already wants his All Black jersey back
Those who made it...
Leon Macdonald
Versatile back went to Japan after the 2003 World Cup, where he had controversially filled in at centre. He played another 30 tests after returning home in 2005, including the 2007 World Cup. None were at centre although he did have a little stint in the No. 10 jersey.

Brad Thorn
After initially turning down an All Black jersey, the outstanding league forward was part of the failed 2003 World Cup campaign, before heading back to the Broncos in 2005 for three seasons. Thorn reclaimed his All Black lock spot, culminating in World Cup final glory in 2011.

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A Thorn in numerous sides...tough All Black lock Brad Thorn came back from Australia and league to win 2011 rugby World Cup glory. Photo / Sarah ivey
A Thorn in numerous sides...tough All Black lock Brad Thorn came back from Australia and league to win 2011 rugby World Cup glory. Photo / Sarah ivey

Jerome Kaino

The smashing loose forward had three seasons in Japan between winning the 2011 and 2015 World Cups. He played the entire tournament for All Blacks in 2011, and was arguably their best player four years later. The 34-year-old's career is only just starting to fade.

Sonny Bill Williams
SBW had a few minutes of World Cup final glory against France in 2011 before playing in Japan, and returning to league to much acclaim with the Sydney Roosters in 2013/14. SBW was fast-tracked back into the All Blacks in late 2014 and was a big part of the 2015 World Cup victory. The 32-year-old is on track to make a third World Cup appearance.

And those who didn't quite get their mojo back...
Troy Flavell
The controversial forward played 15 tests until 2001. A lull in his test career included missing 2003 World Cup selection, after a long suspension, then a club stint in Japan. Made a decent return to New Zealand and played a handful of tests over two seasons but just missed out on the 2007 World Cup squad.

Luke McAlister
After the 2007 World Cup quarter-final crash, the flashy back played for English club Sale for two years. Received a free pass back into the All Blacks in 2009 but the comeback flopped after eight tests that year. McAlister left New Zealand for good in late 2011.