Blues coach Tana Umaga is confident that Rene Ranger will be able to make a meaningful contribution to the team's Super Rugby campaign.
Ranger has been recovering from neck surgery and while early reports suggest he is not quite ready to compete to the best of his ability just yet, he is making tremendous strides.
"He's good to go. He's probably not where he needs to be in terms of being Super Rugby ready but we still got three weeks to go and he is not far off," Umaga told TVNZ this week.
"Ranger hasn't played since April last year so it's been a long time and he has just been improving every week that he has been fully in contact," explained Umaga.
Ranger is not the only member of the squad who has been grappling with injury for a protracted period though. Former All Blacks forwards Patrick Tuipulotu and Steven Luatua are reported to be well on the road to recovery and Umaga is confident about the impact they will have on the Auckland franchise's campaign too.
"It's been a long six months I am just eager to get out there, looking forward to Thursday and getting back on the park again," said Tuipulotu.