News in Brief
McAlister goes back-to-basics
Luke McAlister will return to North Harbour this weekend
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- All Black Luke McAlister has been made available for North Harbour's second round Air New Zealand Cup match against Tasman at Albany on Friday night.It will be McAlister's first appearance for his home province since he left New Zealand for Guinness Premiership side Sale after the 2007 World Cup.
The utility back played the final quarter of New Zealand's 19-31 Tri-Nations loss to the
Springboks in Durban last weekend but the All Black selectors are anxious for him to get more game time ahead of the second Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney on August 22.
Harbour kicked off their season with a surprise 22-19 win over champions Canterbury, featuring a returning Dan Carter, on Saturday.
"McAlister is class, we all know that, so this is good news," said Harbour coach Craig Dowd.
- Former England centre Jeremy Guscott has criticised new Northampton Saints skipper Dylan Hartley, dismissing the England hooker as a "show pony" in his column for The Rugby Times.
Guscott also dredges up Hartley's six-month ban for gouging incurred two seasons ago and questions his ability to scrap for 80 minutes.
"I raved about (Hartley) last year and predicted that he would be a regular starter for the England team," wrote Guscott. "But I was wrong again, and have had to revise my opinion. There is too much of the show pony about Hartley, and there is a suspicion he is not as hard as he would like us to think.
"But Jim Mallinder has obviously seen something in him that I cannot. He is more of a hit-and-run player than an 80-minute grafter, and you cannot get any lower than being an eye gouger."
- Cardiff Blues have completed the signing of former Wales and British & Irish Lions prop Darren Morris. Morris joins the region after leaving Guinness Premiership side Worcester Warriors and will provide cover for the injured Gethin Jenkins.
- Edinburgh and Scotland centre Nick de Luca is to undergo surgery on an abdominal injury. Edinburgh are confident that the 11-cap de Luca will return to action in time for the start of the Magners League season.
- Magners League champions Munster have handed a short-term contract to Connacht fullback Danny Riordan as Ciaran O'Boyle continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.