Sonny Bill Williams set for long-awaited Blues bow

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Sonny Bill Williams could make his first appearance since rupturing his Achilles tendon at the Rio Olympics after being named on the bench for Blues' Super Rugby clash with Highlanders on Saturday.

Cross-code star Williams suffered the injury playing for New Zealand Sevens at the Games in August, ruling him out of the Rugby Championship and the early part of Blues' campaign.

However, he is set to make his debut for the Auckland franchise when they travel to Dunedin this weekend in a battle of the New Zealand Conference's bottom two teams.

Blues will make three changes to their starting XV on Saturday, including the return of All Black lock Steven Luatua from suspension, while Rieko Ioane returns in the backs.

"We have missed Steven's undoubted skills and it also allows Jerome (Kaino) to return to his role at number six where he is regarded as the best in the world," coach Tana Umaga said. 

"Rieko is an extraordinary talent and showed his class off the bench to earn his spot back in the starting line-up."