Cut by the Chiefs after one season, Robbie Fruean will make a dramatic return to the Crusaders next year.
Centre Fruean will next week be announced as a full squad member of the Crusaders after his impressive showing with Hawkes Bay, who will contest the ITM Cup championship final against Manawatu tonight.
Fruean, 26, has played 11 matches for the Magpies this season, at an average of 79 minutes each - a far cry from the four matches he played for the Chiefs this year after having more difficulties with his heart.
The powerful runner had his second heart operation last year to replace a faulty valve, and moved to the Chiefs after the Crusaders were prepared to offer him only a training group place.
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He started well for the Chiefs, scoring against his former team in Christchurch in the first match, but later an accelerated heartbeat restricted his appearances.
Fruean's signing at the Chiefs was made with much fanfare but Sonny Bill Williams' return has helped squeeze him out and the Crusaders, impressed with the improvements Fruean has made, have swooped.
He is said to have run 10km during the Magpies' 26-21 semifinal victory over Northland at McLean Park last weekend, a testament to his improved fitness and workrate.
Fruean, who has offloaded 19 times in this season's ITM Cup - the fourth best in the competition - will be a powerful addition to the Crusaders' midfield. He, Ryan Crotty and Kieron Fonotia will be the main options for coach Todd Blackadder but, with Colin Slade performing well at No 10 this year, Dan Carter could again be used as a second-five.
New Zealand's Super Rugby squads will be announced next Wednesday.