Ma'a Nonu's surprise return to New Zealand rugby has helped Ngāti Porou East Coast end their 54-game losing streak.
The All Blacks centurion and one of this country's greatest midfielders suited up in the Heartland Championship on Saturday, with his presence inspiring his new team to a 50-26 thrashing of Buller in Ruatoria.
As it turned out, the East Coast side barely needed Nonu's services to register their first victory in eight years.
The 39-year-old came off the bench in the 60th minute when the hosts were already 31 points clear at Whakarua Park, conceding a penalty with his first carry.
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But Nonu's late cameo caught the eye and culminated with a 50/20 kick to help set up a try, much to the delight of a packed local crowd.
Nonu was joined on the bench by his former Hurricanes teammates Faifili Levave and East Coast coach Hosea Gear, who had reached out to Nonu in the hopes his good friend would once again put on his boots.
Gear, the former All Blacks winger who grew up in Gisborne and took over as coach this year, said Nonu accepted the offer on the condition that Gear join him in the playing side.
Nonu, who played 103 tests for the All Blacks before retiring after the 2015 World Cup, returned home to New Zealand this year after stints overseas with San Diego in America's Major League Rugby competition and most recently with Toulon in France.
Gear said it took two weeks to secure Nonu as a signing after getting the clearance and paperwork sorted with New Zealand Rugby.
Nonu's Heartland appearance on Saturday came after All Blacks captain Sam Cane also graced the competition for King Country last weekend in his first game returning from pectoral surgery.