Cruden cleared for Chiefs to face Highlanders

Last updated 17:32 27/06/2012
Aaron Cruden
Ben Curran/Fairfax NZ
ALL CLEAR: Aaron Cruden has recovered from an achilles injury in time to face the Highlanders this Friday.

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Aaron Cruden has been cleared to play for the Chiefs in their Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders on Friday night.

The All Blacks first-five had been in doubt after being forced from the field early on in Saturday's third test against Ireland in Hamilton with the recurrence of an Achilles tendon injury.

Cruden has been instrumental to the table-topping Chiefs success this season and was in sublime form for the All Blacks on Saturday during a 23-minute cameo prior to his injury-enforced departure, laying on two tries for second-five and Chiefs' team-mate Sonny Bill Williams.

Another of the Chiefs All Blacks to star in the third test was young openside flanker Sam Cane.

He will start from the bench this Friday behind Tanerau Latimer as the Chiefs brains trust of Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith continue with their policy of sharing the Super Rugby workload between the two tearaways.

Brodie Retallick and Liam Messam, who both made the most of their opportunities against Ireland, have been selected in the starting lineup at lock and blindside flanker respectively.

The other notable change to the Chiefs is the inclusion of Tim Nanai-Williams who returns from injury to take his place on the wing.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow wins the battle of the halfbacks and will start in the No 9 jersey with Brendan Leonard coming off the bench.

Chiefs team to play the Highlanders in Dunedin at 7.35pm, Friday:

Robbie Robinson, Tim Nanai-Williams, Jackson Willison, Sonny Bill Williams, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Kane Thompson, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith.

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