SBW set for Roosters return against NZ Warriors
Sonny Bill Williams is set to return from a thumb injury for the Sydney Roosters' vital clash against the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday, in what could be the dual international's final NRL game in New Zealand.
Williams hasn't played since breaking his thumb in the premiers' upset loss to Newcastle a month ago, but has travelled with the team to the Shaky Isles ahead of the crucial round 24 match-up.
Williams' return would provide a huge boost for the four-placed Roosters as they eye off a top four finish after the regular season.
The Warriors sit in eighth spot heading into the weekend.
NSW winger Daniel Tupou returned in the Roosters last-start 48-4 thrashing of the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval, meaning hooker Jake Friend is likely to be the only Tricolours star missing for the match with the Warriors.
Friend is likely to return from a hamstring injury suffered three weeks ago in next week's match with Melbourne.
Halfback Mitchell Pearce was coy about Williams' probable return.
''We are going to have to wait and see,'' he told reporters today.
''We want them (Williams and Friend) fresh at the back of the year and we have a couple of important games coming up.''
Mitchell Aubusson has been named at No 9 for the Roosters in the absence of Friend.
Pearce was confident the Roosters are finding form at the right time of the season.
''I don't think we are too far off people keep saying that we have been a fair way off but we are still winning games which you are after,'' he said.
''There were a couple of games there we should have won but we have learned from them and hopefully that holds us in good stead coming into these big games now.
''Last week in the second half we have attacked as well as we have for a long time, even though the Tigers might have dropped off, we still stuck to our guns.''
The Roosters have won just four times in 14 games at Mt Smart Stadium, rugby league's spiritual home in New Zealand.
Blockbusting centre Konrad Hurrell is a key inclusion for the home side in his return from a hamstring injury.
Williams returns to New Zealand rugby at end of the NRL season.