Blues head coach Tana Umaga will ease star centre Sonny Bill Williams back into action once he recovers from his Achilles injury.
Williams has predicted that he will miss the first five rounds of Super Rugby action due to the injury he sustained while on duty for the All Blacks Sevens at last year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
And Umaga said he will not risk the two-time Rugby World Cup winner until he has made a full recovery.
“That was the plan right from the start,” he told Stuff.
I don’t think there’s anyone you can talk about that’s as committed or professional as Sonny. He’s been very vigilant towards his recovery and is ticking off all the boxes.
“That last stage no-one really knows how long it takes to get that explosiveness out of the Achilles that’s been mended. That’s just a lot of strengthen work.
“Everyone is really happy with it.
“March-April, that’s what we’re working off. I said to him whatever round it is we want him firing. We don’t want to go too early. The biggest thing is we want him to be confident to be the player he was before.
“He’s out on the field and up to a jog now. I’m excited that he’s out there but that’s tempered with a bit of trepidation and nervousness.”
English-born utility back Piers Francis is the favourite to take take Williams’ inside centre berth but George Moala, Rene Ranger, Rieko Ioane and TJ Faiane are also in the running for a midfield role.