Umaga set to return

Retired All Blacks captain Tana Umaga is expected to make his Hurricanes comeback when Colin Cooper’s side returns to Super 14 this coming weekend against the Highlanders.

Umaga has been sidelined for five weeks with a knee injury from the Hurricanes South African trip. But he got through almost an hour of work on Saturday for his Petone club and seems certain to feature when the Hurricanes clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin on Sunday afternoon, msnxtra.co.nz reported.

Whether that is off the bench or in the midfield remains to be seen with the Hurricanes refreshed for action after having a bye this past weekend.

The Hurricanes maintained their top four position despite their inactivity although the improving Brumbies side jumped above them to No 3 in the standings as the race to the semi-finals heats up.

With Conrad Smith gone for the season, Umaga’s presence will be welcomed for the business end of the championship.

Umaga, as has been his case all season, wouldn’t speak to the local media after helping Petone to a 31-5 win over Old Boys University in the Swindale Shield match in the capital last Saturday.

The Hurricanes face an interesting trip south to Carisbrook which has never been an easy venue for them. But they will have increased hope this weekend, coming across a Highlanders side that is struggling through a poor patch in their campaign.

The Highlanders were awful in edging past the bottom-placed Western Force 25-22 last weekend but managed to get through that match while resting their skipper Anton Oliver on the bench.

So it looks like two old war horses could return to action this weekend in a match that will be vital to the chances of both teams. The Highlanders, despite the stuttering form, remain in contention in sixth place but are effectively a win off the playoffs pace at the moment.