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Brad Weber back to lead Chiefs in final match under Clayton McMillan's tenure as head coach

By Tom Vinicombe

Trending on RugbyPass

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All Blacks halfback Brad Weber will be back running operations at the base of the ruck on Saturday evening when the Chiefs take on the Waratahs in Sydney.

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Weber is one of six changes that interim head coach Clayton McMillan has made to the starting XV, with the former policeman set to slide back into an assistant role with the Chiefs next year upon the return of Warren Gatland.

The introduction of Weber will add some much-needed experience to the backline with Anton Lienert-Brown dropped to the bench in order to give the All Blacks midfielder a rest ahead of a long test season.

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Alex Nankivell takes over from Lienert-Brown at centre, with McMillan suggesting that another new addition to the lineup, wing Sean Wainui, will likely slot into the midfield later on in the match if necessary and that Lienert-Brown, named on the bench, will only join the fray if injuries for the change.

In the forwards, Bradley Slater has been handed a third start of the year at hooker. While the Taranaki rake finished last season as the Chiefs’ first-choice No 2, he’s been usurped in that role by Samisoni Taukei’aho – who will play from the bench on Saturday.

The Chiefs’ ongoing locking crisis – made all the worse thanks to the loss of Josh Lord and Mitch Brown to head knocks, means utility forward Zane Kapeli will line up in the second row.

On the reserves bench, loose forwards Viliami Taulani and Tom Florence could make their second appearances of the year after joining the squad as injury replacements during the season.

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Reuben O’Neill, an All Blacks tourist in 2018, has been named to cover tighthead prop despite accruing all his playing minutes in 2021 on the loosehead side of the scrum.

While the Chiefs are technically capable of making the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final if they can record a big win against the Waratahs, they’d also require at least three of the Blues, Highlanders, Crusaders (all undefeated) and Hurricanes to suffer defeats this weekend – and that still wouldn’t guarantee a finals berth for the Waikato franchise.

As such, Saturday night’s game will likely be the final match of the year for the Chiefs and the final match of Clayton McMillan’s relatively successful tenure as head coach.

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After losing all eight Super Rugby Aotearoa games in 2020, the Chiefs bounced back to nab six wins in this year’s competition and progress through to a final with the Crusaders. They’ve suffered just one further loss in the Trans-Tasman portion of the campaign.

Saturday evening’s match kicks off at 7:45pm AEST (9:45pm NZT) from Brookvale Oval in Sydney.

Chiefs: Kaleb Trask, Shaun Stevenson, Alex Nankivell, Quinn Tupaea, Sean Wainui, Bryn Gatland, Brad Weber, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Tupou Vaa’i, Zane Kapeli, Angus Ta’avao, Bradley Slater, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Oliver Norris, Reuben O’Neill, Viliami Taulani, Tom Florence, Xavier Roe, Anton Lienert-Brown, Chase Tiatia.

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Brad Weber back to lead Chiefs in final match under Clayton McMillan's tenure as head coach

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