WELLINGTON All Blacks captain Kieran Read will make his return to Super Rugby following wrist surgery in what will be team mate Wyatt Crockett's record setting appearance for the Canterbury Crusaders against Japan's Sunwolves on Friday.
Read played 40 minutes of club rugby in Christchurch last week after he underwent surgery following the All Blacks end-of-season tour to the northern hemisphere.
Read's return could not be better timed with the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand less than two months away.
The 31-year-old will also be joined by flyhalf Richie Mo'unga and Seta Tamanivalu, who have also recovered from long-term injuries to make the starting side for the Sunwolves' first Super Rugby game in New Zealand.
The match will be Crockett's 176th appearance for the Christchurch-based side, with the 34-year-old surpassing former All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu for the most Super Rugby appearances.
Mealamu played 175 Super Rugby games, mostly for the Auckland Blues, but he also played one season with the Waikato Chiefs.
"I wouldn't be here celebrating this milestone if it wasn't for my incredibly supportive family and friends, or the coaches, team management and teammates who have made it possible," the loosehead prop said in a statement.
"It continues to be as much of an honour every time I pull on the Crusaders jersey as it was the first time."
The Crusaders had a bye last week and remain the only unbeaten side in the highly competitive New Zealand conference.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien)