By WYNNE GRAY
New All Black Daniel Braid will play for Auckland on Friday night, but the NPC champions' greatest worry for the Eden Park match against Wellington is the health of midfield back Sam Tuitupou.
The second five-eighths damaged his shoulder in the Battle of the Bridge victory and the medical staff were concerned he may have cracked a bone.
"He had several x-rays which cleared him, then he had a scan as well just to check," coach Wayne Pivac said.
After the weekend Tuitupou was considered unlikely to be fit for round three, but last night there was optimism he would recover.
If he does not recover, his absence would provoke all sorts of backline rearrangements.
After his All Black selection, Braid trained twice yesterday with Auckland, his availability for the NPC confirmed in an email to the union.
"We are pleased to have Daniel because we had done a number of sessions with him in the team and it would have disrupted us badly otherwise," Pivac said.
"The Wellington backs have looked very dangerous this year. They have a lot of pace and experience, so we have to get our forward work right."
Wellington will have Rodney So'oialo and Ma'a Nonu available before they assemble with the All Black squad on Monday for the opening training camp in Whangarei.
An absentee was newly-married wing Jonah Lomu.
Officially he was unavailable because of the flu. He did shake off that condition sufficiently to work out in an Auckland gym yesterday.
By WYNNE GRAY