Rugby: Sam Whitelock, Dane Coles to face off as All Blacks make provincial returns before northern tour

Sam Cane won't be the only big-name All Black lacing up his boots in provincial rugby this weekend.

Dane Coles and Sam Whitelock have been confirmed to play for Wellington and Canterbury respectively in the NPC on Friday night, with the pair getting some welcome game time before the All Blacks' northern tour.

After almost two months on the sidelines with injury, Coles in particular is ready to go.

"Been working hard to get back," he says. "I've done all the things I needed to do, so it's about going out and playing a bit of footy now."

And he's not the only one eager to return.

"I feel like I'm in a pretty good spot physically," says Sam Whitelock. "I just need to get out there and get some game time, and very lucky and privileged to get the opportunity for Canterbury."

Whitelock missed the Australian leg of the Rugby Championship, after the birth of his third child, and watching his beloved All Blacks play wasn't always fun.

"A few bad words at the TV," he jokes. "I would have loved to have gone over there, but had a dollar each way really, with a young family at home."

Assuming they get through Friday without incident, Coles and Whitelock will join captain Sam Cane and uncapped lock Josh Lord on a flight to Washington DC next week.

Facing USA Eagles will be their first chance to wear the black jersey again.

"Bit of unknown to be fair, with a lot of those lads haven't played too much footy over there, so the 'Boks game has probably set us up nicely, in terms of how they played," sadds Coles.

Bbefore then, Whitelock expects his All Black teammate of nearly a decade to get stuck into him on Friday night.

"There'll probably be some chat before, during and after the game."

Join us on October 24 for live updates of the All Blacks v US Eagles clash