Defending Super Rugby champions the Chiefs have handed a rugby lifeline to prop Pauliasi Manu days after he was cut from the Melbourne Rebels over injury fears.
The Chiefs moved quickly to recruit Manu after prop Josh Hohneck suffered a freak farm injury, ruling him out for the entire 2013 season.
Hohneck badly damaged his ankle while drenching cattle and the extent of the injury and his rehabilitation means he will not feature next year.
"This is hugely disappointing for us and Josh. He's a top man and made a big impression on us last season," coach Dave Rennie said.
Manu was ditched by the Rebels late last month after he failed a medical examination.
Fears over a disc issue in the neck of the 24-year-old forced the Rebels, who had signed him on a two-year deal, to cut him loose.
But Rennie says their medical experts, including Chiefs doctor James McGarvey and New Zealand Rugby Union's medical director Ian Murphy, have passed Manu as fit to play.
"Different organisations have varying medical processes, but we are very comfortable with the high level of investigations that have taken place in New Zealand, including that of a spinal specialist which have all cleared Pauliasi fit," Rennie said.
Manu has played five times for the Blues and played a key role in Auckland's provincial championship charge this season and started in their final loss to Canterbury last month.