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Preview: North Harbour v Auckland

05th October 2012 08:47

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Ali Williams at ABs training 2012

Ali Williams: First game for Auckland since 2007

All Blacks lock Ali Williams will make his first appearance for Auckland since 2007 in Sunday's ITM Cup clash with North Harbour.

And the 75-Test veteran, who has been on the sidelines with a knee injury since June, can't wait to return to action.

"The knee feels good," Williams told the New Zealand Herald.

"I'm aiming to play at least 40 minutes, I'm not sure how the lungs are going to hold up but it'll be good to get out there.

"2007 is a long time ago but I've come back here, I've got a coach that initially picked me from club rugby 11 or 12 years ago and it's a refreshing environment to be in.

"These young guys are having so much fun yet when they're asked to flick the switch they flick it so I think that's a sign of a good system that's working."

Williams, who has suffered serious Achilles injuries in recent seasons, admitted the latest injury was the hardest to overcome, but now that he has recovered he is still passionate about reclaiming his All Blacks spot.

He replaces Andrew Van der Heijden in Auckland's starting line-up.

North Harbour: tbc

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson; 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Daniel Braid (c), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Siosiua Halonukonuka, 18 Nathan Hughes, 19 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 20 Scott Patterson, 21 Simon Hickey, 22 Dave Francis.

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