29 Jun 2016

Cruden back for Chiefs

2:48 pm on 29 June 2016

The All Blacks first five Aaron Cruden will make his Super Rugby comeback for the Chiefs from the bench on Friday after suffering an unsettling neck injury during the second test against Wales.

Cruden, who was not considered for the third test in Dunedin last Saturday, has been named among the replacements for the Chiefs for their match against the the table-topping Crusaders in Suva.

The former All Blacks first-five Stephen Donald, who led an understrength Chiefs side to a 40-7 thrashing of Wales' midweek team on their tour of New Zealand, will start the game instead.

Chiefs first five Stephen Donald

Stephen Donald will start for the Chiefs against the Crusaders with Aaron Cruden on the bench. Photo: Photosport

Cruden was taken to hospital following a tackle by Wales' Luke Charteris in Wellington, where the lock rolled over the top of him and caused his neck to 'crack'.

Aaron Cruden is taken off on a stretcher in the second test against Wales.

Aaron Cruden is taken off on a stretcher in the second test against Wales. Photo: Photosport

He was cleared of serious injury but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen chose not to risk him for the third game in Dunedin with Beauden Barrett starting instead.

Cruden's fellow All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Seta Tamanivalu and Damian McKenzie will all start the game, with Nathan Harris and Tawera Kerr-Barlow also on the bench.

McKenzie was the only player not used by Hansen in the series sweep of Wales with Cane and Retallick playing for significant periods of all three games in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.

Charlie Ngatai, the eighth Chiefs player named in the All Blacks squad, missed the entire series due to lingering concussion symptoms. He was not considered by coach Dave Rennie for Friday's game.

Chiefs hooker Hikawera Elliott will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance for the side.

He also played one season for the Hurricanes.

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