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Messam set to return for Chiefs against Reds

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Former Chiefs captain Liam Messam is set return for the Chiefs on Friday in their Super Rugby match against the the Reds in Brisbane.

Messam had spent the year focusing on making the Sevens Olympic squad but having missed out he is available for the Chiefs.

The Super Rugby title winner remains on standby for the Sevens in Rio so in order to allow him to keep fit his Japanese club Toshiba who had allowed him to play Sevens have now allowed him to re-join the Chiefs.

Messam is the most capped Chief with 144 caps and coach Dave Rennie says that while he won’t start he has suggested that he will be in the match day 23.

“He’s always been a six/eight for us, primarily six, so that’s where he’ll play,” Rennie said.

“He’s put his hand up for midfield, if available, but I think we’re covered there,” he quipped.

“Obviously he’s known about his [non] selection for a couple of weeks, so he’s made a real emphasis on trying to put on a bit more size. But he looks good.”

Rennie said that Messam’s return to the Chiefs was a boost to their playing stocks where they have been hit by injury but also he presence has been inspirational.

“It’s massive. He’s the highest-capped Chiefs player, he’s obviously captained this side to a couple of titles, he’s got a lot of mana within this group.

“Taleni Seu was talking to me yesterday, and Liam was his child idol, his hero growing up, so he thought it was pretty cool to see him running around. ”

“Oh look, 144 games, so he’s been around a while, and we’ve got some of these young fellas who’ve played one or two. So it’s hard to fathom. But his presence has been awesome and we’re rapt to have him back in.

“He’s in pretty good nick, obviously, and keen to contribute.

“He’s always loved playing for this team, and he’s excited that there’s still a bit of footy for him to go back to.”

Chiefs co captain Sam Cane said that Messam’s return to the Hamilton side was a great thing, especially on the leadership front.

“It’s great to have him back, and someone to bounce ideas off as well,” Cane told Stuff.

“He’s slotted in pretty seamlessly. I think he may have been a wee bit nervous coming in, but that’s ridiculous, I think some of the new boys would’ve been a bit nervous talking to him, being the Chiefs legend that he is.”

Rennie said that he had given some key players days off while the rest of squad have had a lighter week’s training.

Stephen Donald (hamstring) and Toni Pulu (concussion) are back to fitness and Rhys Marshall has overcome his concussion but front-rower Mitchell Graham (hamstring) will be out for another week.

Michael Leitch had the pins taken out of his broken thumb on Tuesday but is still around three weeks away. Charlie Ngatai however continues to struggle from the minor head knock against the Highlanders on May 7.

“He’s still got really mild symptoms, and until he comes right he can’t start training,” Rennie said.

“So unless he comes right in the next couple of weeks the chance of him playing for us again this season is pretty slim. ”

“But it doesn’t mean he won’t play for Taranaki and it doesn’t mean he won’t be available for the All Blacks.”

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