Cult hero Marty Banks is back at first-five for the Highlanders for next Super Rugby season.
With former All Black Lima Sopoaga moving to English side Wasps, the Highlanders have brought Banks back to run the cutter alongside young playmakers Otago's Josh Ioane and North Harbour's Bryn Gatland.
Banks will play for the Highlanders an agreement was finalised with his Japanese side NTT Docomo and the Highlanders.
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark who brokered the agreement is delighted the former Banks is returning to the club "Marty is something of a cult figure amongst our fan base, so I am sure there will be some real excitement that he's coming back for another season with the team".
Banks, who will return to Japan post the 2019 season, is looking forward to the opportunity.
"In all honesty I thought I had played my last game for the landers in 2017 so to get another crack to play in the jersey is pretty special. Obviously I have some very fond memories of my time there, I really enjoyed my time living in Dunedin and playing for the Highlanders so I'm absolutely looking forward to getting back down there."
Head Coach Aaron Mauger said, "We felt with Josh and Bryn already secured , it would be great to have a player that would complement that group and be able to make a real contribution to the team, be able to secure a quality guy and former Highlander like Marty for 2019 is a real bonus. Marty is exactly what we were looking for and will fit seamlessly into the team"
Banks will return to New Zealand in January at the completion of the Japanese Top League.
There are seven new caps amongst the 38 man squad with five of those in the forwards.
Hooker Ray Niuia from Tasman will be joined by Waikato props Ayden Johnstone and Josh Iosefa-Scott, both had standout seasons for the Championship winning Waikato team.
Former Wallaby squad member and Reds prop Sef Fa'agase has returned from Australia and after a good Mitre 10 season with Canterbury and will look to build a future with the Highlanders.
The Premiership winning Auckland side supply lock Jack Whetton (son of former All Black Gary Whetton) while in the backs Gatland who played for the Blues in 2018 makes his way South.
He will be joined by rookie 19 year old halfback Folau Fakatava from Hawkes Bay.
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ray Niuia*
Props: Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott*, Ayden Johnstone *, Siate Tokolahi, Tyrel Lomax, Sef Fa'agase*
Locks: Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Paripari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton*
Loosies: Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon
Halfbacks: Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava*
First-Fives: Bryn Gatland*, Josh Ioane, Marty Banks
Midfielders: Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Richard Buckman, Matt Faddes, Thomas Umaga-Jensen
Outside Backs: Waisake Naholo, Tevita Li, Tevita Nabura , Josh McKay , Ben Smith
Unavailable due to long term injury: Aki Seiuli, Kalolo Tuiloma
*Debut season for Highlanders in 2019