Former England hooker Steve Thompson will come out of enforced retirement to play for French club Brive.
World Cup winner Thompson has not played for nine months
The 29-year-old, a World Cup winner four years ago, ended a 13-year career with Northampton in January because of a serious neck problem.
But surgeons have given Thompson the all clear to return to action and he hopes to be playing again in December.
He said: "My body feels brilliant now. This offer gives me the chance to return and grow with Brive."
It is a remarkable turnaround for Thompson, who was originally wanted as a scrum coach by Brive and had to seek clearance from the Rugby Football Union to adjust his contract.
He must also repay a substantial insurance claim awarded to him after a neck operation to replace a bulging disc - the problem that led to him retire.
This is a chance to rediscover myself, take a new look at life
Thompson's return to action may prompt speculation he could force his way back in to the England side and add to his 47 caps.
But Thompson insists his only goal is to get fit and play for his new club.
"I was 'rugbyed' out when the injury happened. But now I realise how much I've missed the game," he told the Times.
"I've looked at the players around the world at the top level and some are 34 or 35.
"I'll get on an immersion course in France, slim down a bit and then we'll see where we go.
"This is a chance to rediscover myself, take a new look at life."