Sonny Bill Williams may make his return to rugby this Saturday, one week earlier than expected.
Williams' four-week suspension for his hit on Lions wing Anthony Watson ends after Friday night's game of three halves between the All Blacks, Counties Manukau and Taranaki in Pukekohe.
1News reports that the All Blacks and Blues second five-eighth will then turn out for Counties B on Saturday at the Bombay Rugby Club in South Auckland.
The match involves Counties' two B teams, and could serve as important preparation for Williams ahead of next week's opening Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney.
Ironically, a World Rugby panel refused to count the Counties B match in Williams' original suspension.
Williams has not played for more than five weeks after being sent off in the second test against the Lions in Wellington on July 1.
Clearly, the All Blacks are keen for the 32-year-old to get some much-needed game-time and contact under his belt before returning to the test arena against the Wallabies.