Beauden Barrett revelled in a "celebration of rugby" as he made a winning start to his Blues career against his former team the Hurricanes at a packed Eden Park on Sunday.
Barrett had a long time to wait for his Blues bow, but the two-time World Rugby player of the year started at full-back in a 30-20 triumph over the franchise he left to move to Auckland.
A sell-out crowd of 43,000 in New Zealand witnessed the eagerly-awaited match on the first weekend of the Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Barrett was relieved to make his first appearance for Leon MacDonald's side in a tournament that was arranged after the regular Super Rugby season could not be completed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: "It's good to get it done and out of the way.
"Obviously there was that emotional hurdle to get over playing against all my mates, as well as starting a new chapter in my career. Very proud of the start and the effort from our boys tonight."
He added: "It was about rugby being back and about everyone coming together to support this team… just a celebration of rugby.
"It's fantastic to be back playing and to see the support. We were absolutely blown away by the support. Hopefully we can get that again when we're back in a couple of weeks."
Barrett managed to see the funny side when his former team-mates got him in the middle of their celebrations for a Dan Coles try, which he could not prevent with a saving tackle.
"That just happened in slow motion," a laughing Barrett said.
"It was almost like it was meant to be, so fair play to him. He's [Coles] pretty good in the wide channels, so a guy like him should be able to finish against someone like me."
Tries from Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane and Dalton Papali'i and 15 points from the boot of Otere Black proved enough for the Blues to secure victory.