Do-or-die fixture with the Rebels see Brodie Retallick make his long-awaited return for the Chiefs
Chief coach Colin Cooper has kept the changes to a minimum for a side that bested the Crusaders in Suva two weeks ago.
Retallick, who has just signed a new contract with New Zealand, will slot straight back into the second row to partner Canadian international Tyler Ardron.
Luke Jacobson is once again absent and is going through concussion protocols.
Cooper is understandably ecstatic to have Retallick back in the side.
“It is great to have key men like Brodie and Nathan return for this game. We are really looking forward to taking on the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday night. There’s plenty to play for, for both teams. It will be a fantastic contest for spectators to enjoy,” Cooper said.
“The team is excited to don the Gallagher Chiefs jersey and put on performance our fans will be proud of back at home.”
The Chiefs would likely earn themselves a spot in the quarter-finals if they can knock over the Rebels in Melbourne. Last weekend the Rebels were crushed 66-nil in Christchurch by the Crusaders – the team the Chiefs so efficiently dealt to in Fiji – but the Melbournites rested key Wallabies from that match, ostensibly to target this Friday night’s fixture with the Chiefs.
The recent returns of Retallick and Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane would make the Waikato-based side a significantly more threatening opponent in the knockout rounds than they have been in much of the season to date.
Chief: Solomo Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Sean Wainui, Jack Debreczeni, Brad Weber, Pita Gus-Sowakula, Sam Cane (c), Lachlan Boshier, Tyler Ardron, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta’avao, Nathan Harris, Atu Molu. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross, Nepo Laulala, Jesse Parete, Mitchell Jacobson, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Marty McKenzie, Tumua Manu.
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