Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has confirmed All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock has been cleared to play for the Super Rugby champions in the relaunched competition.
According to New Zealand's Stuff website, Whitelock had been playing in Japan prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to him returning home from his New Zealand Rugby-approved sabbatical.
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner was keen to play for the Crusaders in the new Super Rugby Aotearoa competition which is due to kick off on Saturday, 13 June, and Robertson confirmed on Tuesday that permission had been granted.
"Sam's available to play - it's great to have him back," Robertson said on Newstalk ZB.
Whitelock, 31, has played 143 games for the Crusaders since 2010, and captained the team to their recent Super Rugby titles.
He made 115 Test appearances before being granted leave to play for the Panasonic Wild Knights, coached by former Crusaders and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.