All Blacks: Props Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala named for injury comebacks

All Blacks props Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala will both make long-awaited returns from injury, when Canterbury face Counties Manukau in a Mitre 10 Cup premiership match on Saturday.

Both players will come off the bench, Moody for Canterbury and Laulala for the Steelers.

Loosehead Moody has had an injury-ravaged season, which began with him rehabbing from shoulder surgery. When he made his club rugby return, he suffered a severe finger injury, followed by a knee injury and then a broken thumb sustained during the All Blacks' 40-12 win over the Wallabies in the Bledisloe Cup in August.

Somewhere in between, he also sat out a two-game Super Rugby suspension.

The 30-year-old will play his first provincial game since 2015.

"I've been itching since it happened, so I'm excited to put the boots on," said Moody.

"Honestly, I don't remember how I did my thumb. I just remember, in that first half, trotting off to a lineout and thinking my thumb was sore.

"It's been one of those years for me. I haven't been able to string many games together, but hopefully from now, it's all on the way up."

Laulala has been on the recovery trail over the last seven months, after breaking his arm during the Chiefs' second Super Ruby game of the season against the Blues.

The 13-test All Black was originally ruled out for 8-12 weeks, but complications during the recovery extended his stay on the sidelines.

Providing both props emerge from the fixture unscathed, they'll likely be included in the All Blacks' 51-man squad for their upcoming Northern Hemisphere tour.

Coach Steve Hansen said an extended squad would go to Yokohama for the third Bledisloe Cup test against the Wallabies on October 27.

The All Blacks will then take on Japan in Tokyo on November 3, before starting their European tour against England at Twickenham the following week.

While in Japan, the All Blacks plan to fly 22 players early to London to prepare for the test against England.

"We'll take 32 players to Europe and we'll take 32 initially to Japan, then an extra 19 players will come over for the Japan week," Hansen said last week.

That squad will be named in Christchurch on Monday.

New Zealand will also face Ireland and Italy on their tour.

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles is also making his return to rugby, named on the bench for Wellington's clash against Taranaki on Friday night.


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