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Sonny Bill Williams returns for Blues clash with Hurricanes

Sonny Bill Williams Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Sonny Bill Williams will return to Super Rugby for the Blues in a game which may shape his All Blacks selection hopes.

The cross-code star has overcome a fractured wrist suffered eight weeks ago and is named to start at second five for their derby against the Hurricanes in Auckland on Friday, with game breaker Rieko Ioane shifting back to the wing.

Williams is set to line up against powerhouse No.12 and fellow All Black Ngani Laumape, his direct competition for a starting berth in the series against France in June.

The 32-year-old former NRL star has two games to prove himself before the Test squad is named, having missed the past six as his team slipped from title contention.

Head Coach Tana Umaga said Williams is "fizzing" to prove himself in what will be a more balanced Blues backline.

Murphy Taramai starts at flanker in place of an unwell Dalton Papali'i while Ofa Tu'ungafasi are the two other starting changes from the side that beat the Waratahs 24-21 in Sydney to post a third win this year.

Tu'ungafasi is celebrating Wednesday's re-signing with the Blues until the end of the 2021 campaign.

Outside back Melani Nanai may return from the bench after recovering from an ankle injury.

Umaga said the Waratahs win had provided a boost to their ailing season, but is well aware his team has lost 25 of their past 26 New Zealand derbies.

They are at home at Eden Park for their next four games, where they are 0-4 in 2018.

Blues: Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Orbyn Leger, Sonny Bill Williams, Caleb Clarke, Stephen Perofeta, Augustine Pulu (capt), Akira Ioane, Murphy Taramai, Jerome Kaino, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, James Parsons, Ross Wright. Reserves: Matt Moulds, Pauliasi Manu, Sione Mafileo, Been Nee-Nee/Lyndon Dunshea, Kara Pryor, Jonathan Ruru/Sam Nock, Dan Kirkpatrick, Melani Nanai.