After almost a year and plenty of soul searching, Dane Coles is about to be back in black.
The All Blacks name their team to play Japan in Tokyo this afternoon and it will largely be made up of rookies, with most of the first-choice players heading to London to prepare for their blockbuster test against England at Twickenham.
For Coles though it will mark the end of a comeback he thought he may never complete.
"Just so happy, she was touch and go this year a few times, so just happy to be amongst a rugby team again and doing rugby things. It beats being in the gym by yourself or just running around a field. It's given me a new appreciation for rugby that's for sure," Coles said.
Though his wife Sarah may not be so pleased with his international return.
"She's been definitely making the most of it (having Coles home). A lot of nights out on a Saturday night and me parked up at home with the kids haha. I don't think she knows what's going to hit her over the next six weeks but nah it's been a little bit of a blessing in disguise being at home with the kids and the wife, we've definitely made the most of it," Coles said.
Coles spent almost a year out of the game after rupturing knee ligaments last November. Several setbacks and two surgeries later and the wait if finally over.
Coach Steve Hansen said the hooker can't wait to cut loose.
"I don't think he needs any fizzing up, he's pretty fizzed up. Anymore fizzing and he'll bubble, so we don't need to go to far on the fizzing."
Hansen names his team this afternoon and it should hold plenty of fresh faces with a bunch of rookies in line to debut. The bulk of the All Blacks first choice players will head to the UK later today to prepare for next weekend's highly anticipated clash with England, while the rest of the squad and 19 others remain in an All Blacks B team to take on Japan.
Coles is one of the senior guys staying in the land of the rising sun and he concedes it will be a a step up from the two games of domestic rugby he's played.
"Yeah hahahaha it'll be a bit different than Mitre 10 Cup that's for sure, that test match intensity, but the All Black jersey does many wonders for you."
Both Coles and All Black fans will be hoping he makes the most of his second coming and reclaims his status as the best hooker in world rugby.