Wellington - Dumped New Zealand flyhalf Aaron Cruden will get some game time for his provincial side Manawatu on Sunday before an expected recall for the All Blacks' final Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia next month.
The 25-year-old was dropped for the All Blacks' final two matches of the Rugby Championship after he missed the team's flight to Argentina following a night out drinking, though coach Steve Hansen said he expected he would re-join the squad for the Oct. 18 clash against the Wallabies in Brisbane.
Cruden, who will face a disciplinary hearing later this week, was the waterboy for Manawatu last week when they played Waikato, but his provincial coach Jason O'Halloran said he expected the pivot would come off the bench in the second half against their provincial neighbours Hawke's Bay.
"He felt uncomfortable about starting and could only get to us on Friday for training," O'Halloran told the Manawatu Standard newspaper.
"On Monday and Tuesday he had a few things to take care of."
Fellow flyhalf Daniel Carter is also likely to appear for his provincial side Canterbury for the second successive week after he continued his rehabilitation from a broken leg.
The 32-year-old is slowly regaining match fitness ahead of the Brisbane clash, which is a dead rubber after the All Blacks retained the annual trophy contested by the two nations with a 51-20 win at Eden Park last month.
Carter played 40 minutes for Canterbury last week against Southland and said he hoped to get closer to a full match when they play Tasman on Saturday.
Both Carter and Cruden will be casting an eye toward Johannesburg on Saturday and the performance of Beauden Barrett, who was starting flyhalf for the All Blacks' win over Argentina in La Plata following Cruden's indiscretion.
Barrett received generally positive reviews of his second test start in the number 10 shirt and did not miss any of his six goal-kicks.
The 23-year-old is likely to have another chance to bolster his credentials in the position on Saturday against the Springboks at Ellis Park.
The win over Argentina sealed the All Blacks' third successive Rugby Championship title. They face the Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday in their final match of the tournament.