All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams is set to make a return to the rugby field a week earlier than expected.
Williams' ban for his red card in the second Lions Test is due to be lifted after this Friday night's "Game of Three Halves" encounter, featuring the All Blacks' squad against the Counties-Manukau and Taranaki provincial teams.
1 NEWS understands Williams will play for a Counties "B" team the following day at the Bombay Rugby Club just south of Auckland.
The union's two "B" teams will face each other in the afternoon match.
It's understood the All Blacks are keen for Williams to see some sort of action before next week's opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney.
He hasn't played for nearly two months, after being sent off in the All Blacks'-Lions Test match in Wellington on July 1.