NZ latest – McCaw returns

Keo.co.za brings you news from New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises.

McCaw returns – Richie McCaw will make his return to Super Rugby this weekend as he was named on the bench for the Crusaders’ match against the Chiefs.

The All Blacks flanker was initially given a two-week break at the start of the season but a foot injury has sidelined him for the opening eight rounds of Super Rugby. McCaw is set to make play his first competitive game of the year in Tauranga.

Flyhalf Dan Carter is still out with a hamstring injury, which means Matt Berquist retains the No 10 jumper on Friday. Changes in the run-on side see scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i and prop Owen Franks replace Wyatt Crockett and Andy Ellis.

Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Tom Marshall, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Muliaina fit for Chiefs – Mils Muliaina has recovered from his back injury and will start for the Chiefs’ clash against the Crusaders on Friday.

The fullback picked up the injury in the Chiefs’ round three game against the Rebels. He replaces Tim Nanai-Williams, who drops to the bench.

Other changes to the run-on side see Fritz Lee start at No 8, with Liam Messam shifting to flank and Scott Waldrom falling to the reserves. Lock Romana Graham is also preferred ahead of Craig Clarke in the second row.

Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Nathan White, 18 Craig Clarke, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tana Umaga, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.

Landers rest Cowan – Jimmy Cowan will be rested for the Highlanders’ trip to Melbourne to face the Rebels on Friday.

The All Blacks scrumhalf has been influential in the Highlanders’ impressive run this season, but head coach Jamie Joseph has decided he needs a breather. This means Aaron Smith will start his first game of the season.

Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Siale Piutau, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Subs: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 David Te Moana, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 James Paterson.