Dane Coles is set to make his long-awaited return to rugby via the replacements bench for Wellington in a Mitre 10 Cup game with Taranaki on Friday.
The All Blacks hooker has been out of action with a serious knee injury sustained in the world champions’ end-of-year Test against France at the Stade de France in Paris last November.
Prior to that, the 31-year-old was also sidelined with due to concussion which ruled him out of the All Blacks’ drawn series against the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand last year. That match against France was only his 11th competitive appearance during 2017.
Coles was part of the All Blacks’ wider squad, for their home series against France in June and the recently-completed Rugby Championship without making any appearances on the playing field.