Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland has made two changes to his starting side to take to the field for Friday’s New Zealand derby against the Hurricanes in Hamilton.

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A minor backline shuffle allows All Blacks star Damian McKenzie to return to the side following their 51-14 dismantling of the Waratahs in Wollongong last week.

The 24-year-old slot in at fullback in place of Solomon Alaimalo, who has shifted to the left wing in place of the injured Sean Wainui.

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Up front, versatile utility forward Mitchell Brown enters the starting side at lock for Canadian international Tyler Ardron, who has been ruled out due to an infection.

All Blacks prop Atu Moli returns to the match day squad in the reserves, where he replaces youngster Ryan Coxon.

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Moli joins hooker Bradley Slater as the only two alterations on the substitutes bench.

Gatland said the team want to continue to build on their performance in Wollongong.

“Last week we started well and that provided us with a solid platform for the second half. Again, this week we will be challenged to do the same,” he said in a statement.

“Any New Zealand derby is going to be a tough battle, the Hurricanes will be hurting from their loss last weekend and will be hungry to rectify that.

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“We need to remain focused on being disciplined, utilise our opportunities and deliver a performance that our members and supporters can be proud of.”

The Chiefs currently sit at the top of the New Zealand conference and second overall with 18 points from five matches, five points clear of the eighth-placed Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes are expected to name their side later this afternoon.

Chiefs team to play the Hurricanes

1. Aidan Ross
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
3. Ross Geldenhuys
4. Michael Allardice
5. Mitchell Brown
6. Lachlan Boshier
7. Sam Cane ©
8. Pita Gus Sowakula
9. Brad Weber
10. Aaron Cruden
11. Solomon Alaimalo
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
13. Tumua Manu
14. Shaun Stevenson
15. Damian McKenzie

Reserves:
16. Bradley Slater
17. Atu Moli
18. Reuben O’Neill
19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
20. Mitchell Karpik
21. Lisati Milo-Harris
22. Kaleb Trask
23. Alex Nankivell

– With Chiefs Rugby

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