Sonny Bill Williams will play his first game for the Chiefs on Friday after being named in the starting side to play the Hurricanes in their final pre-season hitout in Taupo.

Williams last week won the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association heavyweight title with his first-round defeat of Clarence Tillman III and, while he had been training with the Chiefs, had been given special leave to concentrate on boxing. His next bout is likely to be in May.

The 26-year-old will start at second five-eighths alongside fellow All Blacks Aaron Cruden at first five-eighths and centre Richard Kahui in a side likely to be close to coach Dave Rennie's strongest.

Williams pulled a hamstring during sprint training in Sydney around Christmas. He has a history of hamstring issues but Rennie said he was fully fit.


"Sonny has been training and running freely with no injuries and is looking forward to playing on Friday night,'' Rennie said.

Chiefs team to play the Hurricanes at Owen Delany Park, Taupo, on Friday (6.35pm kickoff): Robbie Robinson, Lelia Masaga, Richard Kahui, Sonny Bill Williams, Tim Nanai Williams, Aaron Cruden, Brendon Leonard, Fritz Lee, Tanerau Latimer, Sam Cane, Craig Clarke, Mike Fitzgerald, Ben Afeaki, Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith. Reserves: Marcel Cummings-Toone, Sona Taumalolo, Shane Cleaver, Brodie Retallick, Scott Waldrom, Ronald Raaymakers, Andrew Horrell, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Declan ODonnell, Jackson Willison, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.