After six months on the sidelines, All Blacks prop Angus Ta'avao is set to get his first taste of Super Rugby Aotearoa when the Chiefs host the Crusaders on Saturday.
Ta'avao has been named on the bench after recovering from a torn quadriceps sustained in the opening game of Super Rugby back in January when the Chiefs beat the Blues 37-29 in Auckland.
He underwent surgery a month later and the Ta'avao said the surgeon told him that the injury was "rare."
The 30-year-old then picked up a minor knee injury which has delayed his return even more.
The Chiefs are winless in the revamped post-coronavirus competition and Ta'avao can't wait to step out onto the field again.
"I'm like a kid in a candy store," says Ta'avao. "I probably need to settle down a bit, I'm a bit over-excited
"As soon as I got the heads-up that I was available to play if I got through a couple of days training, excitement levels were at an all-time high.
"Obviously it's been a tough competition so far for the lads, and it's been even tougher to not be able to be out there with them and fight for those tough matches."
The Chiefs are playing for pride in their remaining two games, as they're out of contention for the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.
"We're not going to win this competition, but we have two games to put respect into the Chiefs jersey," Ta'avao added.
"Five of our losses have been within seven points and we've had opportunities to win those.
"These last two games are a good chance for us to set a few things right and move forward and finish the season the right way."
The Crusaders have won six of their last eight Super Rugby games against the Chiefs, including an 18-13 win when they met in round 3 of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Chiefs: 1-Reuben O’Neill, 2-Bradley Slater, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Tupou Vaa’i, 5-Mitchell Brown, 6-Lachlan Boshier, 7-Sam Cane (c), 8-Pita Gus Sowakula, 9-Brad Weber, 10-Aaron Cruden,11-Sean Wainui, 12-Alex Nankivell, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Shaun Stevenson, 15-Damian McKenzie
Reserves: 16-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17-Ollie Norris, 18-Angus Ta'avao, 19-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20-Simon Parker, 21-Lisati Milo-Harris, 22-Kaleb Trask, 23-Quinn Tupaea
Crusaders: 1-George Bower, 2-Codie Taylor (c), 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Sam Whitelock, 5-Mitchell Dunshea, 6-Sione Havili, 7-Tom Christie, 8-Tom Sanders, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-Jack Goodhue, 13-Fetuli Paea, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Will Jordan
Reserves: 16-Andrew Makalio, 17-Isi Tuungafasi, 18-Oliver Jager, 19-Quinten Strange, 20-Billy Harmon, 21-Bryn Hall, 22-Brett Cameron, 23-Leicester Fainga'anuku
Join us for live updates of the Chiefs and Crusaders from 7:05pm Saturday