Lauaki back for Chiefs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lauaki back for Chiefs

24/03/2010 05:12:55 PM Comments (0)

Sione Lauaki resumes the quest to restore his reputation as a rugby professional by planning to cause legitimate damage to the Brumbies Super 14 title aspirations in Canberra on Friday night.

The controversial Chiefs and former All Blacks loose forward returns to the fray for the round seven clash with another team on the cusp of the top four. He was selected at No.8 on Wednesday by coach Ian Foster, less than 24 hours after pleading guilty to an assault charge stemming from a late night altercation in a Hamilton bar on March 5.

Foster had no hesitation in unleashing Lauaki on a Brumbies pack fortified this season by Rocky Elsom, though denied the ball snaring abilities of an injured George Smith.

Lauaki cut a glum figure in Hamilton District Court but Foster was convinced the hard-hitting ball runner was capable of atoning for a disappointing season on and off the field when visiting one of the competition's most daunting away venues.

"It's been a tough period for him but he's in a good space," Foster said.

"He's been training well. Through it all his contribution to the team has been pretty constant."

Foster said he was pleased Lauaki had "taken responsibility for his actions" while the support of his teammates was evident by the attendance of Mils Muliaina, Richard Kahui, Liam Messam and Brendon Leonard in court.

Lauaki started the Chiefs campaign with the honour of captaincy while Muliaina rested but soon found himself on the sidelines when a spear tackle on a Lions opponent resulted in a yellow card and two-match ban.

He missed games against the Force and Reds and was omitted from the line-up to take on the Crusaders as it coincided with his latest off-field drama.

Lauaki demotes Colin Bourke to the bench enabling the Chiefs to start an all-international loose trio also featuring Tanerau Latimer and Liam Messam.

Their task at the breakdown appears less onerous following Smith's shoulder injury against the Blues last weekend - a setback that sees 18-year-old Michael Hooper entrusted with the openside role for the Brumbies.

Like Lauaki, Hooper might feel a sense of trepidation as he inherits Smith's No.7 jersey, though he seemed undaunted at Brumbies training this week.

"Big shoes to fill, but great footsteps to follow in," he said.

"I feel like I'm ready. The Brumbies have a mentor system and he's my mentor. He gives you tips about how you can improve and take opportunities."

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