Former All Black Adam Thomson has signed on with Super Rugby's Chiefs to complete a stunning comeback from a debilitating injury that had him questioning whether he'd ever play rugby again.
In 2017, Thomson was hospitalised and unable to walk for days with a mystery illness in Tokyo, where he was playing for the Canon Eagles.
He was later diagnosed with a vertebrae infection and faced a huge uphill battle to return to the playing field.
On Tuesday, Thomson took to Instagram to share news that he'd taken another step in that journey, named as one of eight injury-replacement players to the Hamilton-based squad.
"It's a strange old beast this life we live," Thomson wrote. "This time two years ago, I was flat on my back in a Japanese hospital unable to walk.
"So never underestimate what the human body can do with a little self belief and a whole lot of hard work - persistence pays."
While Thomson made a handful of appearances for Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup last year, a potential opportunity with the Chiefs represents a significant shift up the ladder.
Thomson played 29 tests for the All Blacks as loose forward, making 68 Super Rugby appearances for the Highlanders.
He also had stints with Australia's Reds and Rebels, before heading to Japan.
"I am really excited to work under [Warren Gatland] and I am also excited to be in a team like the Chiefs. It's a team I've always looked up to, especially playing against them - the flare that they bring and the excitement.
"They seem like they have a lot of fun out there, which is always a team you want to be involved with. If I get an opportunity to play for the team, it'll be immense."
The Chiefs begin their pre-season campaign against the Blues on Friday.