Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World

Latest Feature

'Sione changed my life by playing rugby' - Tuipulotu's father on emotional Scotland journey

Sione Tuipulotu's Tongan father on how rugby changed his ways as a father and husband.

‘Purely a strategic decision’: Chiefs make mass changes to starting side

By Finn Morton
Shaun Stevenson of the Chiefs celebrates his try during the round three Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Highlanders at FMG Stadium Waikato, on March 10, 2023, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

After securing the minor premiership with a win over the Brumbies last weekend, the Chiefs have made 13 changes to their starting side to play the Western Force on Saturday.


Coach Clayton McMillan has decided to rest many of his key players ahead of the quarterfinals next weekend, including the likes of Samisoni Taukei’aho, Brodie Retallick, and Damian McKenzie.

Co-captains Sam Cane and Brad Weber have also been left out of the matchday 23 this week – with a press release from the Chiefs stating that Weber’s absence is due to injury.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

“Clearly, we have taken the opportunity this week to freshen up some frontline players, which is purely a strategic decision,” McMillan said in a statement.

“We have played some incredibly physical games over the last few weeks, and this along with the travel to and from Perth and a short turn-around to the quarterfinal, resting them because a bit of a no-brainer.

“Most of the players we are resting have helped us prepare in Perth and will head home in advance of the weekend’s game to spend time with family and recharged the batteries.

“For those who have remained – our expectations as a collective and as individuals are clear. Points won’t change anything for us but pride in our performance will.”


Among the changes, Naitoa Ah Kuoi shifts into the loose forwards after impressive in the second row this season. But the most intriguing is probably Rameka Poihipi at flyhalf.


Ollie Norris, Tyrone Thompson and John Ryan will pack down in the front row, while Laghlan McWhannell and Tupou Vaa’i make up the rest of the tight five.

Joining Ah Kuoi in the backrow is Simon Parker and the Samipeni Finau.

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will play his 50th match in Chiefs colours this weekend, while rising star Cortez Ratima will look to provide off the bench.


All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown will captain the ladder-leaders this week, and will combine with the reliable Alex Nankivell in the midfield.

As for the outside backs, Etene Nanai-Seturo and Liam Coombes-Fabling take their place on the wings, while the reliable Shaun Stevenson has been named at fullback.

The match between the Chiefs and Western Force at HBF Park in Perth is set to get underway at midnight NZST on Sunday morning.

Chiefs team to take on Western Force

  1. Ollie Norris
  2. Tyrone Thompson
  3. John Ryan
  4. Laghlan McWhannell
  5. Tupou Vaa’i
  6. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
  7. Simon Parker
  8. Samipeni Finau
  9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
  10. Rameka Poihipi
  11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
  12. Anton Lienert-Brown (c)
  13. Alex Nankivell
  14. Liam Coombes-Fabling
  15. Shaun Stevenson


  1. Bradley Slater
  2. Jared Proffit
  3. Atunaisa Moli
  4. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
  5. Pita Gus Sowakula
  6. Cortez Ratima
  7. Rivez Reihana
  8. Lalomilo Lalomilo

Players not considered due to injury: Angus Ta’avao, Quinn Tupaea, Xavier Roe, Bryn Gatland, Josh Lord, Kaylum Boshier, Brad Weber


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
FEATURE Dan Biggar prepares to relinquish Welsh jersey on a high Dan Biggar prepares to relinquish Welsh jersey on a high