New Zealand flanker Josh Blackie is returning to New Zealand and will be available for next year’s rugby Super 14.

Blackie, 29, is currently playing for Kobe Steel in Japan but has signed a two-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Auckland Rugby Union, and will be available for selection for the Blues squad for 2009.

The Junior All Black, New Zealand Sevens player and former Highlanders and Otago captain played 55 games for the Highlanders and 73 for Otago before heading to Japan last year.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said Blackie’s return was fantastic news for New Zealand rugby.

“As New Zealand rugby fans know, Josh is an outstanding rugby player and his return will certainly provide a boost for the Blues and Auckland, and for New Zealand rugby overall,” Tew said.

Blackie’s agent Warren Alcock said although Blackie had previously played his rugby for Otago and the Highlanders, he had opted to return to Auckland because that was where he grew up and still has family.

Blackie will return to New Zealand early next year at the end of the Japanese season.