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World Cup winner Sonny Bill set for return after Achilles injury


Thursday, 6 April 2017 :  The 31-year-old All Blacks centre, who tore his Achilles tendon during the Rio Olympics sevens tournament last August, last played in the longer format of the game in the 2015 World Cup final.

The twice World Cup winner will be joined on the bench by 21-year-old flyhalf Bryn Gatland, the son of British and Irish Lions coach Warren, who could make his Super Rugby debut.

Gatland was drafted into the Blues squad after Ihaia West suffered an ankle injury last weekend that could keep him out for up to four weeks.

All Blacks flanker Steven Luatua will start at number eight after completing a four-week suspension for a dangerous tackle in a boost for a Blues side who have won three and lost three of their first six matches.

“We have missed Steven’s undoubted skills and it also allows Jerome (Kaino) to return to his role at number six where he is regarded as the best in the world,” Blues coach Tana Umaga said.

For the Highlanders, All Blacks fullback Ben Smith returns after a hamstring injury forced his late withdrawal from the side that thumped the Melbourne Rebels 51-12 last week.

Loose forward Liam Squire will also make his return for the 2015 champions, who also have a 3-3 record, after four weeks out with a knee injury.

“We all know the New Zealand derby matches are incredibly intense games, you have to be at your very best to come away with the win,” Highlanders coach Tony Brown said.

Source : internet

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