Metallica's Lars Ulrich says his bandmate James Hetfield will be back ''stronger and healthier'' after they were forced to postpone their tour dates so he could seek help in rehab.

The 'Nothing Else Matters' rockers were due to perform in Australia and New Zealand from October 19 through to November, but they axed the shows in September as the frontman had returned to rehab to ''work on his recovery'' from addiction.

Drummer Lars has now updated their fans to let them now James is doing everything in his power to get himself well, and admitted he and the rest of the band - completed by Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett - have been blown away by the support of their fans, whilst he promised they will return to the countries next year.

He told USA Today: ''He's doing what he needs to; he's in the process of healing himself.

''I feel bad for everybody down in Australia and New Zealand, but we're excited to get back to full force and come back stronger and healthier than ever.

''Along the way, there's obviously an occasional bump in the road. ''But it's been an incredible ride, and we're looking forward to getting back down there, hopefully next year.

''I think the biggest surprise is just how positive the feedback has been from our fans and friends and peers alike.

''It's very heartwarming, and it's just blown our minds how much love and appreciation and support we've gotten in the last week since we had to postpone this. It's an incredible thing.''

James' battle with addiction was documented in the 2004 movie 'Some Kind Of Monster', and he spent time in rehab after the film was released.

In 2017, he revealed he had been sober for 15 years and said fear was a huge motivator in his recovery.

Meanwhile, Kirk recently revealed he has tonnes of ''kick-ass'' material ready for the band to work on for their follow-up to 2016's 'Hardwired...To Self Destruct', as losing ''500 musical ideas'' when his iPhone broke made him ''produce twice as much''.

He said: ''I have a lot of stuff written that I've put aside for the band -- a lot of stuff.

''Because last album, I didn't have any stuff, 'cause I lost most of my ideas when I lost my phone -- over 500 musical ideas ... It took me a long time to recover from that.

''And I got it into my head I had to produce twice as much -- basically, I overcompensated.

''So, as it stands, as we speak, I have a lot of material -- really kick-ass, great material -- that I just can't wait to show the other guys and turn into some music, record, get the album out and have more kick-ass metal.''