Greg Somerville trailed the All Blacks on to Rugby Park in Christchurch today, taking another step in the process of ultimately joining New Zealand's World Cup campaign.
While the All Blacks went through their paces ahead of Saturday's Tri-Nations match against the Springboks at Jade Stadium, the 55-test prop took part in Canterbury training before their Air New Zealand Cup squad headed for a high country camp in Twizel.
Somerville, who tore an Achilles tendon against South Africa in last year's Tri-Nations match in Pretoria, will see game time against the Sassenachs in Dunedin on Saturday and more action in Canterbury's final pre-season game against North Harbour here on July 21.
Providing he clears those obstacles his rehabilitation should take another forward when Canterbury's Cup campaign starts at home against Bay of Plenty a week later.
Somerville, whose versatility earmarks him as an ideal back-up to Tony Woodcock and Carl Hayman, played his first full club game in Christchurch last weekend, the precursor to being named in Canterbury's 24-man squad on Monday.
"I really enjoyed my time in club rugby. Any rugby is good for me, and now I'll see if I can step up," he said, adding he had not experienced any problem with his Achilles.
Somerville has played three club games, progressively logging more game time, though Canterbury coach Rob Penney said the 29-year-old would be managed carefully to allow him every opportunity to reclaim his test spot.
"He's done the miles in the gym and on the training track in terms of the rehabilitation, but we'll be careful not to overload him, and bring him back to this level slowly," Penney said.
"We're in the fortunate position of having a good level of depth in the front row which will allow us to manage everyone's work loads."
Penney has named three props in his squad though Ben Franks, who has been loaned to Tasman, can return to Christchurch if Somerville is recalled by the All Blacks . Two spots have also been left open until it becomes clearer which, if any, current test players will be available for part of the campaign.
Hooker Corey Flynn will captain a squad featuring eight former All Blacks and one new cap -- 18-year-old wing Sean Maitland.
A member of New Zealand's under-19 World Cup-winning side last year, Maitland's inclusion is subject to approval from the New Zealand Rugby Union as the organisation has protocols on the use of players aged 18 and under at first class level.
Maitland was provisionally named in place of injured duo Nick Thomson and James Paterson.
Paul Williams, Sean Maitland, Scott Hamilton, Steve Yates, Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman, Ben Nowell, Hamish Gard, Stephen Brett, Andrew Ellis, Kevin Senio, Mose Tuiali'i, Johnny Leo'o, Hayden Hopgood, Kieran Read, Michael Paterson, Kevin O'Neill, Isaac Ross, Greg Somerville, Campbell Johnstone, Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn (captain), Steve Fualau, Mikaele Tuu'u.