Just 12 hours after arriving in the country, Tamati Ellison has been named in the Highlanders starting lineup for their opening Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton Saturday night.
Ellison, a one-Test All Black, returned from Japan Thursday night and coach Jamie Joseph had no hesitation in naming him in his side.
Also making their debuts for the Highlanders are former Hurricanes Andrew Hore and Hosea Gear.
The playmaker Buxton Popoali'i will make his Highlanders debut on the right wing.
The reserves include three newcomers - English international loosie James Haskell, Bay Of Plenty lock Culum Retallick and Kurt Baker, who returns to the squad of 22 after a lengthy injury layoff.
Chris Noakes starts at first five with Colin Slade unavailable through injury.