New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock is hoping to feature for his provincial side Canterbury or Super Rugby team Crusaders this year after his Japanese stint was cut short by the pandemic coronavirus.
Whitelock, who has committed to New Zealand Rugby until 2023 joined Panasonic Wild Knights in 2019 for a short-stint but the Japan's Top League tournament was cancelled last month following the outbreak of Covid-19.
The 31-year-old was set to return to Crusaders next year but now is hoping to feature for Christchurch based side at some stage this year provided the situation improves.
“We are pretty gutted the Japan competition has been cancelled, we understand, but we were sitting pretty well on the table," he told Sky Sports.
"But we are back in New Zealand at the moment and we will make our way back to Christchurch once we are allowed to travel a bit further.
"We will head back there and hopefully meet back up with the Crusaders or Canterbury, whatever competition kicks off first."
Super Rugby along with other domestic competitions around the world are currently on a suspension but with New Zealand set to face Wales and Scotland in their July series, Whitelock reckons the players need to be given at least three to four weeks to gain match-fitness before any competitive game.
"There are a number of calendars out there that we are debating. As players, we just have to be ready to go when we do get the information from the government saying we can get into it at this level," he added.