The 32-year-old had been on a New Zealand Rugby Union-approved break to help extend his career through to the 2015 World Cup but returned to training last month suggesting he is likely to feature for the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship in August.
But first he will line up in the far less glamorous surroundings of the Canterbury Metro competition against Lincoln University on Saturday, his first match since the All Blacks were beaten by England at Twickenham in December.
"He's there to play as long as we need him. Obviously it's a good hit-out for him," Christchurch co-coach Daniel O'Brien told Fairfax media.
"It will be his call to see how he's going. There are no restrictions at this stage."
Security has been beefed up for Saturday's match where McCaw will line up in a youthful side keen to make the most of playing alongside the three-times winner of the International Rugby Board's player-of-the-year award.
"There's a real excitement level to be playing alongside one of the greatest players to ever play in the country," O'Brien said.
"It's exciting for those boys. It's something they'll be able to talk about for years to come."
The All Blacks kick off the defence of their Rugby Championship title on August 17 in Sydney against Australia with the return match in Wellington the following week and then home and away matches against South Africa and Argentina.
In his absence, number eight Kieran Read has taken on the All Black captaincy with Sam Cane of the Waikato Chiefs filling in at openside flanker during the 3-0 home series win over France last month.
With 116 caps to his name and widely regarded as one of the greats of the game, McCaw is likely to reclaim both the roles.
His return to competitive action could also boost his Super Rugby side the Crusaders, who qualified for the end of season playoffs.
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