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Chiefs star Anton Lienert-Brown headlines changes for Crusaders clash

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

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Chiefs midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown has returned to his side’s starting lineup for their Super Rugby Pacific clash against the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.

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Lienert-Brown has endured a delayed start to the season, missing the opening round of the campaign as he continued to recover from the partially dislocated shoulder he suffered while on All Blacks duty last November.

The 26-year-old marked his return from that injury from the bench last week as the Chiefs fell to a 24-22 defeat at the hands of the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.

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In light of that result, head coach Clayton McMillan has made a total of seven changes to his starting lineup, with Lienert-Brown’s addition to the midfield one of four backline changes.

Two of those come in the halves, where All Blacks halfback Brad Weber, who notched up his 100th Chiefs match last week, and first-five Josh Ioane have made way for Xavier Roe and Bryn Gatland, respectively.

The only other alteration out wide comes at fullback, where Emoni Narawa takes the place of Chase Tiatia in the No 15 jersey.

Up front, All Blacks prop Angus Ta’avao is promoted from the bench to make his 50th appearance for the Chiefs at No 3, while All Blacks lock Tupou Vaa’i reverts back to the second row after starting at blindside flanker last week.

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Vaa’i has been replaced on the side of the scrum by Kaylum Boshier, who joins Gatland in making his first start of the campaign.

On the bench, two uncapped players in the form of tighthead prop Greg Dyer and halfback Cortez Ratima are in line to make their Super Rugby Pacific debuts.

Dyer and Ratima are two of four new faces in the reserves, with young first-five Rivez Reihana and midfielder Rameka Poihipi primed for their first appearances of the season.

Tom Florence, meanwhile, has been slated to play in the No 20 jersey alongside Lachlan McWhannell, with a decision to be made as to who will fill that role on the bench.

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“We are excited about playing the Crusaders who have quickly established themselves as the benchmark team again,” McMillan said of his side.

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“There were a lot of positives to take from the Blues match, and if we can be a little more clinical and ruthless with our possession, we have the ability to stress any team.

“That said – it all starts up front. The Crusaders try and squeeze you through their set piece, we learned that the hard way around this time last year.

“We know what’s coming and the onus is on our big boys to front up, plain and simple. If we do that we will give ourselves a chance to play in a manner our sponsors and fans will be proud of. ”

McMillan also paid tribute to Ta’avao, who will notch up half a century of appearances for the franchise since arriving from the Waratahs in 2018.

“Angus is an invaluable veteran and brings a lot to our team both on and off the field. We look forward to seeing him run out for his 50th in our jersey this Saturday.”

Kick-off for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 7:05pm.

Chiefs team to play the Crusaders

1. Aidan Ross
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
3. Angus Ta’avao
4. Tupou Vaa’i
5. Brodie Retallick
6. Kaylum Boshier
7. Sam Cane (c)
8. Pita Gus Sowakula
9. Xavier Roe
10. Bryn Gatland
11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
12. Quinn Tupaea
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
14. Shaun Stevenson
15. Emoni Narawa

Reserves

16. Bradley Slater
17. Ollie Norris
18. George Dyer
19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
20. Tom Florence/Laghlan McWhannell
21. Cortez Ratima
22. Rivez Reihana
23. Rameka Poihipi

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