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Luke Jacobson and Pita Gus Sowakula add firepower to Chiefs for Hurricanes battle

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

The Chiefs have overhauled their starting line-up for this Sunday’s clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington, making eight personnel changes to the run-on side.


In the forward pack, Aidan Ross and Angus Ta’avao return to start in the front row after both celebrating milestones last Saturday against the Crusaders off the bench. Samisoni Taukei’aho will keep his starting spot at hooker.

Changes in the second rows see Tupou Vaa’i shift from a stint at blindside flanker into lock with Naitoa Ah Kuoi getting his first start of the season in jersey No 5. The three starting loose forwards consist of Kaylum Boshier at blindside, co-captain Sam Cane at openside flanker and the returning Pita Gus Sowakula at number 8.

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In the backline, Josh Ioane returns to start at first five-eighth, pairing up with co-captain Brad Weber at halfback. In the midfield, All Black Anton Lienert-Brown makes his return at centre after missing the prior two fixtures. Changes to the back three include Alex Nankivell shifting from the midfield to start on the right wing and Emoni Narawa taking over from Kaleb Trask at fullback.

In the replacements, Atunaisa Moli will wear jersey number 17 while Sione Mafileo has shifted to the bench after starting in four of the Chiefs’ five games to date. Laghlan McWhannell will cover the locking duo and All Black Luke Jacobson makes a long-awaited return from injury to cover the loose forwards, having only featured for the Chiefs in their opening game of the season. Bryn Gatland shifts to the bench in jersey number 22 and is joined by utility back Chase Tiatia to round out the matchday twenty-three.

Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is expecting a tightly contested battle on Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve had a really constructive review after Saturday’s match against the Crusaders and are looking forward to showing improvements this weekend,” he said.

“We know we need to be more ruthless in certain areas and focus on nailing our roles if we are to be successful against a dangerous Hurricanes side. They will be looking to bounce back after their match against Moana Pasifika, especially in front of their home crowd so we are expecting a tightly contested battle.”


Sunday’s match will kick off at 3:35pm NZT from Sky Stadium in Wellington.

Chiefs: Emoni Narawa, Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Josh Ioane, Brad Weber, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane, Kaylum Boshier, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tupou Vaa’i, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Tyrone Thompson, Atunaisa Moli, Sione Mafileo, Laghlan McWhannell, Luke Jacobson, Cortez Ratima, Bryn Gatland, Chase Tiatia.


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