All Blacks captain Kieran Read will make his long-awaited return to rugby when he plays for Counties Manukau in a warm-up match against Tasman this Wednesday.
Read is expected to play 40 minutes of the game between the Tasman Buccaneers and the Counties Manukau Cavaliers at Manurewa Rugby Club, with the teams featuring academy and club players wanting to press their claims for final selection to the Mitre-10 Cup teams.
The 32-year-old Read has been out of action since December following back surgery to free nerve pressure from a disc bulge which caused considerable leg pain.
"I've spoken to Kieran and we are pleased to have him with us this week," said Counties Manukau PIC Steelers coach Darryl Suasua.
"This is a practice game for our wider training groups for both unions. For us it is the first chance for our club players to get together to start preparations towards the Mitre 10 Cup and for some of them, it will be a trial to chase spots in that squad.
"I am sure it will be fantastic for our boys to have Kieran with them and they are bound to learn a lot from that experience."