Sam Cane returns from concussion injury as All Blacks halfback starts for Bay of Plenty
The 28-year-old has been out of action since he left the field with a head knock during the Chiefs’ 31-18 Super Rugby Aotearoa defeat at the hands of the Hurricanes in August.
After being named in Ian Foster’s first All Blacks squad of the year last weekend, Cane will make his first appearance since leaving the field at Sky Stadium in Wellington five weeks ago, albeit from a slightly less familiar position.
Set for his first outing in the blue and yellow hoops since 2016, Cane makes up one third of a Super Rugby Aotearoa loose forward trio that also features Chiefs openside flanker Mitch Karpik and Blues blindside Aaron Carroll.
They will be complemented by a strong tight five made up of skipper Aidan Ross, Nathan Vella, Jeff Thwaites, Kane Le’aupepe and Keepa Mewett, all of whom have varying degrees of Super Rugby experience.
Among the most eye-catching names in the backline is three-test All Blacks halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, who will make his Bay of Plenty debut against his former province after joining the Steamers from Taranaki this season.
He will partner former Highlanders playmaker Dan Hollinshead in the halves, with the duo expected to unleash a promising quintet of players outside them.
Electric Hurricanes utility back Chase Tiatia, last year’s Duane Monkley Medal winner, will start at second five, forming a midfield combination with Mathew Skipwith-Garland.
A notable omission from the starting side is new first five recruit Otere Black, who has signed with Bay of Plenty from Manawatu for the upcoming campaign, but will make his Steamers debut from the bench this weekend.
Bay of Plenty Steamers team to face Taranaki:
1. Aidan Ross (c), 2. Nathan Vella, 3. Jeff Thwaites, 4. Kane Le’aupepe, 5. Keepa Mewett, 6. Aaron Carroll, 7. Mitch Karpik, 8. Sam Cane, 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 10. Dan Hollinshead, 11. Fa’asiu Fuatai, 12. Chase Tiatia, 13. Mathew Skipwith-Garland, 14. Joe Webber, 15. Emoni Narawa.
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