All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams has been given a chance to test his injured knee after being named in the Blues team to face the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday.
Williams sat out the Blues’ 34-29 win over the Reds in Samoa on Friday after picking up the injury a week earlier in their 16-16 draw with the Chiefs.
He had made a late return to Super Rugby after suffering an Achilles injury playing for the All Blacks Sevens at the Rio Olympics.
Williams has been bracketed at second five-eighth with TJ Faiane, and will need to come through training on Monday before his starting spot is confirmed.
The team will feature eight current or former All Blacks, and coach Tana Umaga says having senior players like Williams back from injury is an added bonus.
“There’s no doubt it will be challenging turnaround for us,” he said.
“In the last 30 days we have played four Super games in New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa, and now the British and Irish Lions.
“We are fortunate to have some senior players back from injury.”
Among those still missing due to injury are 77-Test All Black Jerome Kaino and prop Pauliasi Manu.
Umaga said Kaino, who had surgery on his knee in mid-April, was recovering well but not quite at the level needed to be considered for selection.
Blues: Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, George Moala, Sonny Bill Williams/ TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Stephen Perofeta, Augustine Pulu, Steve Luatua, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Reserves: Hame Faiva, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Ihaia West, TJ Faiane/Melani Nanai.