The Chiefs are set to take on the Highlanders this Saturday in Suva, Fiji. The team return to Fiji for the third consecutive year, with the Highlanders this year hosting the game at ANZ Stadium in Suva.
This highly anticipated matchup will be the first since the International June test series break and both sides will be determined to impress and build momentum going into the last three round-robin games before the playoffs.
The last time the two teams met was at FMG Stadium Waikato in March, where the Chiefs put in a clinical performance to win 27-22.
Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper is taking positives from the previous game against the Highlanders but knows how tough they’ll be.
“It was good to win that game, we had to fight really hard so we know the challenge the Highlanders will bring. Whoever stays in control the longest in this game will be successful,” he said.
In the forwards, Karl Tu’inukuafe starts after his appearances for the All Blacks, with Liam Polwart and Angus Ta’avao joining him in the front row. Canadian lock Tyler Ardron returns to the starting side.
Last years’ New Zealand U20 Captain Luke Jacobson starts in the number six jersey after a highly impressive game against the Crusaders, scoring two tries and putting in a dominant performance.
Cooper has been pleased with Jacobson’s play.
“Luke Jacobson has shown his growth at this level. He’s very physical and wins most of the defensive stats. He can play number seven, number six, and lock, showing his versatility well.”
In the backline, Brad Weber and Damian McKenzie start in the nine and ten jerseys. Charlie Ngatai and Anton Lienert-Brown link up again in the midfield, and Sean Wainui, Toni Pulu and Solomon Alaimalo make up the back three.
Colin Cooper expects an entertaining game in Suva, with the Chiefs ready to embrace the challenge.
“The weather in Fiji is going to be great for two teams desperate to win. It’s going to be an entertaining game, a typical New Zealand derby played in a place where they love Rugby. We are ready to embrace the challenge.”
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe, 2. Liam Polwart, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 4. Michael Allardice, 5. Tyler Ardron, 6. Luke Jacobson, 7. Sam Cane (C), 8. Liam Messam, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Damian McKenzie, 11. Sean Wainui, 12. Charlie Ngatai, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 14. Toni Pulu, 15. Solomon Alaimalo.
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17. Sam Prattley, 18. Jeff Thwaites,19. Jesse Parete, 20. Mitch Karpik, 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Marty McKenzie, 23. Shaun Stevenson.
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