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Chiefs name dangerous back three for Waratahs showdown

By Tom Vinicombe
Etene Nanai-Seturo showed some spark for the Chiefs on the left wing throughout the 2021 season. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

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It may have taken until the sixteenth week of the competition but for the first time this year, the Chiefs are finally able to field what might be their most dangerous possible back three in their quarter-final showdown with the Waratahs.

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That comes courtesy of the return from injury of fleetfooted sevens exponent Etene Nanai-Seturo, who will line up in the No 11 jersey on Saturday afternoon for the first time since the Chiefs’ loss to the Brumbies in early May

A head knock suffered by Kaleb Trask in the narrow win over the Fijian Drua last weekend has handed the fullback berth to Emoni Narawa while Jonah Lowe – one of the more underrated wingers in the competition – rounds out the outside backs with a promotion from the bench.

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While the three dangermen have collectively accrued 22 run-on appearances this season, not once have they all combined in a starting line-up.

Although injuries and illness have blighted the team’s season to date, it appears that things are finally coming right for coach Clayton McMillan at the perfect moment.

All in all, McMillan has made just the two personnel changes – Nanai-Seturo and Lowe – to the starting line-up from the side that defeated the Drua in the final round of the regular season.

Up front, Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho and Angus Ta’avao will combine for the ninth time this season while All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Tupou Vaa’i will suit up in the second row. Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Atunaisa Moli and Naitoa Ah Kuoi will provide tight five cover with lock Josh Lord still unavailable for selection.

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In the loose forwards, Samipeni Finau and Luke Jacobson hold their spots on the flanks with Pita Gus Sowakula earning his 13th start of the year and 11th at number 8..

Brad Weber and Bryn Gatland will partner up in the halves while Quinn Tupaea holds onto the No 12 jersey and Alex Nankivell shifts into the centre role after featuring on the wing last weekend. Xavier Roe takes over from Cortez Ratima as halfback cover while Josh Ioane and Rameka Poihipi will cover the other roles in the backline from the bench.

The dangerous trio of Nanai-Seturo, Lowe and Narawa rounds out the side.

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In their earlier encounter this season, the Chiefs bagged an impressive 51-27 win at Waikato Stadium with Lowe grabbing four tries on the night, and coach McMillan will no doubt be hoping for a similar performance this weekend.

The match between the Chiefs and the Waratahs kicks off from Hamilton at 4:35pm NZT on Saturday afternoon.

Chiefs: Emoni Narawa, Jonah Lowe, Alex Nankivell, Quinn Tupaea, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Brad Weber, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Samipeni Finau, Tupou Vaa’i, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Atunaisa Moli, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Mitch Brown, Xavier Roe, Josh Ioane, Rameka Poihipi.

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