15 Oct 2010

Weepu back for Lions, Franks and Thorn back for Canterbury

11:48 am on 15 October 2010

Piri Weepu's escaped All Blacks promotional duties and will turn out at first five for Wellington in their derby with Taranaki in the late Saturday game.

The Lions trail their second-placed Hurricanes franchise partners by four points and, with two rounds remaining, need a win to have any chance at a home semi-final.

Lose and they could yet miss out on the top seven and next year's Premiership.

Canterbury has been bolstered by the return of All Blacks Owen Franks and Brad Thorn for its first and last defence of the Ranfurly Shield this season, against Counties-Manukau on Saturday.

Franks replaces the injured Peter Borlase in the front row and lock Thorn comes in for Luke Romano, who injured a knee in last Saturday's 26-16 Shield win over Southland.

It'll be Thorn's first match for Canterbury this season and the second for Franks.

Sam Whitelock, who played at blindside flanker against Southland, is unavailable due to All Blacks commitments and Ash Parker replaces him.

The backline is unchanged from last weekend so rugby fans can look forward to a midfield clash between Sonny Bill Williams and Tana Umaga, who lured Williams from the NRL.

And Umaga's nephew Tu Umaga-Marshall is on the wing for Canterbury.