WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — World Cup-winning All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino is returning to New Zealand rugby after a two-year playing stint in Japan.

The 30-year-old Kaino, a veteran of 48 tests, left New Zealand immediately after the 2011 World Cup final and after playing all but 90 seconds of New Zealand's six matches at the world tournament.

He announced via Twitter on Friday that he had signed a two-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union, which encompasses the 2015 World Cup, and to play for the Auckland-based Blues in Super Rugby.

New Zealand at first struggled to fill the vacancy at blindside flanker left by Kaino's departure but now has two outstanding options at No. 6 in Liam Messam and Steven Luatua.