5 Oct 2012

Ali Williams back for Battle of the Bridge

5:03 pm on 5 October 2012

The former All Black lock Ali Williams will play his first game for Auckland in five years against North Harbour on Sunday.

The 75-test lock returns from a knee injury for his first game for Auckland since 2007, and isn't expecting to last much more than 40 minutes at Albany.

Williams admits this latest comeback is the hardest, but he's still passionate about reclaiming a spot in the All Blacks.

He says he's relishing playing alongside this young Auckland side, whose average age is just 21 with Daniel Braid in it, and 22 with him included.

The 31-year-old replaces Andrew Van der Heijden in one of four changes to the starting XV for the local derby.

Auckland captain Braid makes his first start since round one after suffering a groin tear, while Pauliasi Manu replaces the injured Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Lolagi Visinia makes his first start for Auckland in place of wing Dave Thomas who moves to the bench.