MARQUEE Blues signing Ma'a Nonu is heading to his new franchise after finishing his Japanese contract.
His Ricoh Black Rams side have been eliminated from the playoffs and Nonu is expected in Auckland late this week, perhaps in time to watch the Blues host the Crusaders in the opening round of the Super 15.
"We will get our medical people to do an assessment on Ma'a and watch how he goes," coach Pat Lam said.
"He'll come here and get set up in Auckland and back into the swing of things.
"We'd like to think that all being well, Ma'a will be ready to travel with us for the games in Africa. That will give him some good time to learn our systems, get into our environment and and get involved."
The Blues play the Chiefs in the second round before games against the Bulls and Stormers in South Africa, then a quick turnaround and homecoming March 23 match against Nonu's former team, the Hurricanes.
Nonu played 110 games for the Hurricanes but a tempestuous initial season under new coach Mark Hammett saw him and Piri Weepu head to the Blues.
The Blues and Crusaders will reveal their opening selections tomorrow.
"There is a bit of an edge around this time of the season and certainly for a game of this magnitude," Lam said. "It has been their longest break for a lot of them, a number have been away from rugby for months and now it is the real deal so there is some excitement and edge about this week."