Cardiff Blues full-back Ben Blair is set to end 15 months of injury hell when he returns a rugby field for the first time since October 2010 against Gloucester this weekend.
The 32-year-old injured his knee in a Heineken Cup clash against Castres. At the time, Blair had no idea that he would end up being sidelined for an extended period but now the former New Zealand international is back and determined to play a full part in the Blues’ RaboDirect PRO12 campaign,
"It's been a hugely frustrating period for me both on and off the pitch over the last 15 months,” he said,
"When I first injured the knee back in October 2010 I don't think anyone expected it to take so long to get back.
"It's been extremely hard both mentally and physically to get to the position where I am able to play again, so I'm just looking forward to finally having a match.
"The rehab work on the knee has gone well and it feels good.
"I've really missed playing so it will be good to get a run out on Saturday."
It is a rare chink of good news for Blues on the injury front with coaches Justin Burnell and Gareth Baber missing several of their frontline stars for extended periods.
The likes of Martyn Williams still remain on the treatment table and with Six Nations call-ups depleting the Blues ranks further Baber maintains Blair will have a crucial role to play in the coming weeks.
"Ben brings a vast amount of experience having been a solid front line player for us for the past five to six seasons, so it's good to have him back,” he said.
"Obviously he's been out for a long time with his knee injury but we hope to see him back to his kicking best and controlling the back three for us, solid under high balls and driving our attack in wide areas.
"He's trained hard by himself doing a lot of rehabilitation and seems to be right back up there with his fitness scores, and has performed well alongside the players in rugby training.
"Obviously he wasn't part of our Heineken Cup squad but it's good to have him playing again with some big RaboDirect matches on the horizon."