Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan has named his Chiefs team to challenge the Crusaders in their second game of this year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition at Orangetheory Stadium on 13 March at 7.05pm.
McMillan has made a raft of changes to his twenty-three to face the Crusaders in Christchurch. A further two debutants have been named with the Taranaki pair of lock Josh Lord and loose forward Kaylum Boshier in-line to make their Super Rugby debut. McMillan and the side will also welcome the return of Gallagher Chiefs loosehead prop Aidan Ross, midfielder Quinn Tupaea and utility back Chase Tiatia.
Tighthead prop Angus Ta’avao has been promoted to join the starting front row of Reuben O’Neill and Samisoni Taukei’aho with Bradley Slater, Ross and Sione Mafileo providing front row cover on the bench. Naitoa Ah Kuoi shifts to bench, seeing All Black Tupou Vaa’i pair with Lord, the debutant 2.02 metre lock. Loose forward Mitchell Brown earns his first start at six alongside Gallagher Chiefs Co-Captain Sam Cane on the openside and in-form Luke Jacobson will pack down the scrum at number eight, completing a powerful forward pack.
Only two changes feature to the backline that was a force against the Highlanders in the opening 40 minutes last Friday. Tupaea will start at second five-eighth with All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown covering on the bench.
Maori All Blacks winger Shaun Stevenson shifts from the bench to start on the right wing. Remaining in their starting spots will be halves combination of Chiefs co-captain Brad Weber and Bryn Gatland, along with electrifying winger Etene Nanai-Seturo and All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie.
Joining the tight five cover will be debutant loose forward Boshier in jersey number twenty. Experienced halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi returns to the twenty-three joining Lienert-Brown and returning Gallagher Chief Chase Tiatia as backline cover.
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McMillan commented on the changes the Gallagher Chiefs coaching staff have made.
“This week we have made a number of changes in our match day twenty-three. Josh and Kaylum get their opportunity to pull on the Gallagher Chiefs jersey for the first time. We were impressed with our debutants last week, but we know the Crusaders are a formidable team and we need to have the right balance of youth and experience.”
“We didn’t want to compromise our preparation this week after Anton picked up a niggle in the Highlanders game. He will be a valuable injection off the bench,” said McMillan.
McMillan finished acknowledging the calibre of the defending champions.
“The Crusaders have set the benchmark for a number of years now. They have a well-balanced team with plenty of experience and a good group of young talent. We know they are hard to beat at home, when you play down there you don’t win unless you deliver an 80-minute performance.”
Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Shaun Stevenson, Sean Wainui, Quinn Tupaea, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Brad Weber, Luke Jacobson, Sam Cane (cc), Mitch Brown, Josh Lord, Tupou Vaa’i, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Reuben O’Neill. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Aidan Ross, Sione Mafileo, Kaylum Boshie, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Anton Lienert-Brown, Chase Tiatia.
– Chiefs Rugby
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