Kiwi wrap (Tues) brings you the latest news from New Zealand’s Super 14 franchises.

MacDonald set for return

Crusaders fullback Leon MacDonald claims he is finally over his concussion issues and expects to play his first competitive match in over six months this Friday.

MacDonald, who has not played a game since suffering a concussion in the Tri-Nations encounter against the Springboks on 12 July last year, is expected to be named at fullback for the Crusaders’ pre-season clash against the Western Force in Perth.

“I feel 100 % fine. I have been looking forward to it,” MacDonald said. “It has been a long time out of the game, so I am looking forward to getting back out there and getting stuck in.”

Following his set back last year, MacDonald returned to training but was unable to shake off the effects of the concussion and played no competitive rugby for the remainder of 2008.

“I probably just tried to push myself back into it too soon, too early and I was training full-on when I should not have been really.

“It was probably just more of myself being my own worst enemy and refusing to take the advice to sort of have complete rest. I suppose once I learned that lesson and gave myself a proper rest, it was fine.

“Once I started taking the proper rest and recovering properly I knew it wasn’t going to be a long-term issue and I was going to be fine.”

Cowan to lead Highlanders

Controversial All Blacks scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan has been named captain of the Highlanders for this year’s Super 14 campaign.

Cowan’s selection caps a remarkable turnaround in the player’s career following some well-publicised alcohol-fuelled incidents which landed him in trouble with the law and saw him ordered to stop drinking by the NZRU.

“It’s been through a lot of hard work and grit. That was 2008, though, and now it’s 2009; it’s a new year. I’ve got to start again,” said Cowan. “It is a huge honour and something I’m very proud of,” Cowan told The Southland Times.

Cowan replaces Craig Newby who joined English Premiership outfit, the Leicester Tigers last year.

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