Blues rookie Baden Wardlaw has been forced to retire from rugby due to a neck condition.
The Bay of Plenty lock was poised to play Super Rugby for the first time at the age of 29.
However, a medical examination found he had three fused vertebrae in his neck, and after further checks he was advised to retire.
In a statement on the Blues website, Wardlaw said he'd played rugby as a youngster.
He gave up the game but returned four years ago, gaining selection in the Bay of Plenty Mitre 10 Cup team.
“I thought I had finally made it. This was my dream to play for the Blues,” Wardlaw said.
“I have had the fused vertebrae since birth and it has not stopped me doing anything. But to then receive this news that I should give up rugby for the rest of my life is hard to come to grips with.
“The medical people have gone to a number of specialists and they have all said the same thing. That is that if I got a knock in the wrong position I could end up as a tetraplegic or worse, I could die.
“I need to be thankful that this was found out, although right now I am still gutted because this was my dream.”