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Chiefs star Sam Cane returns for Super Rugby Pacific semi-final against Crusaders

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

All Blacks captain Sam Cane will return from injury to play for the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Pacific semi-final against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.

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Cane hasn’t played for the Chiefs since he injured his knee against the Western Force three weeks ago, but will return to action from the bench at Orangetheory Stadium this weekend.

Absent from his side’s regular season win over the Fijian Drua and quarter-final victory over the Waratahs, the 30-year-old loose forward has been deemed fit enough to feature against the Crusaders by head coach Clayton McMillan.

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Cane’s injury return means he takes the place of Mitchell Brown on the bench as one of four changes made to the match day team.

The only alteration made to the starting side comes at fullback, where one-test All Blacks playmaker Josh Ioane takes over from Emoni Narawa, who has been out of action this week due to illness.

Elsewhere, former All Blacks prop Atu Moli makes way in the No 18 jersey for George Dyer, while outside back Chase Tiatia fills the void left by Ioane in the reserves.

The most notable absentee from the Chiefs team is two-test All Blacks lock Josh Lord, who is continuing to recover from a knee injury, but should be available for selection should the Hamilton-based side qualify for next week’s final.

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“It’s a challenge going down there but you have to walk towards that,” McMillan said in a statement of playing the Crusaders in Christchurch, a fixture the Chiefs won with a last-gasp try earlier this year.

“It’s been a journey to get to this point and we should celebrate the fact it’s all on the line and we have earned an opportunity to do something special.

“The challenge for us is to rise to the occasion, apply some pressure on the reigning champs and win enough moments to give ourselves a chance.

“We have demonstrated an ability to do that already this year. There is no magic formula, just effort, belief and execution. We know we have the squad to win if we play to our potential.”

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Kick-off for Friday’s Super Rugby Pacific semi-final between the Chiefs and Crusaders is scheduled for 7:05pm NZT.

Chiefs team to play Crusaders

1. Aidan Ross
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
3. Angus Ta’avao
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Tupou Vaa’i
6. Samipeni Finau
7. Luke Jacobson
8. Pita Gus Sowakula
9. Brad Weber (c)
10. Bryn Gatland
11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
12. Quinn Tupaea
13. Alex Nankivell
14. Jonah Lowe
15. Josh Ioane

Reserves

16. Bradley Slater
17. Ollie Norris
18. George Dyer
19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
20. Sam Cane
21. Xavier Roe
22. Rameka Poihipi
23. Chase Tiatia

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