Super Rugby 2019: Sam Cane back for Chiefs against Blues

  • 16/05/2019
Sam Cane.
Sam Cane. Photo credit: Getty

Flanker Sam Cane will make his long-awaited return to the field, when the Chiefs take on the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.

Cane hasn't played since suffering a horror neck fracture against the Springboks at Pretoria during last year's Rugby Championship. He sustained a small break in a vertebra on the lower-right side of his neck and was consigned to a brace for months following emergency surgery.

Now fully recovered, the 27-year-old will reclaim his Chiefs co-captaincy and make his comeback from the bench at Eden Park, after a a seven-month stint on the sidelines.

In other changes, Angus Ta'avao will start at tighthead in his 100th Super Rugby match, shifting fellow All Black Nepo Laulala to the bench.

Jesse Parate and Mitchell Brown form a new locking combination, while Tyler Ardron slides back to number eight.

Loosehead prop Aidan Ross also returns from his neck injury to take a place on the pine.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs will be without red-hot flanker Luker Jacobsen, due to a head injury suffered at training. Pita Gus Sowakula will slot into the number-six jersey in his absence.

The Chiefs will hope to replicate the form that saw them topple the Blues 32-29 in Hamilton in round nine and also consolidate fourth place in the NZ conference, as they continue their quest for a playoff spot.

Buoyed by their hard-fought win over the Sharks last weekend, coach Colin Cooper is hoping to see that momentum build.

"It is always a great rivalry between us and the Blues," said Cooper. "We expect another brutal encounter again this weekend.

"They have some great attacking ability among their team. We will need to continue to build on our performance against the Sharks."

Chiefs: 1-Atu Moli, 2-Nathan Harris, 3- Angus Ta'avao, 4-Jesse Parete, 5-Mitchell Brown, 6- Pita Gus Sowakula, 7-Mitchell Karpik, 8-Tyler Ardron, 9-Brad Weber, 10-Marty McKenzie, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Anton Lienert-Brown, 13-Tumua Manu, 14-Sean Wainui, 15-Solomon Alaimalo

Reserves: 16-Liam Polwart, 17-Ryan Coxon, 18- Nepo Laulala, 19- Mitchell Jacobson, 20-Sam Cane, 21-Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22-Shaun Stevenson, 23-Alex Nankivell

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