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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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Luke Jacobson ready for first Chiefs start of 2020 while Sam McNicol is set for first appearance since 2017

By Online Editors
Luke Jacobson of the Chiefs takes on Jackson Hemopo of the Highlanders. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Chiefs return home to FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday 22 February following their 43-17 win over the Sunwolves.

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Chiefs Head Coach Warren Gatland has made a raft of changes to his side named to face the Brumbies in Hamilton.

An unchanged front row will be joined by a new locking duo of Michael Allardice and Mitchell Brown.

Fans will welcome the return of All Black flanker Luke Jacobson at six, captain Sam Cane at seven and the powerful Pita Gus Sowakula returning to start at number eight to complete an experienced forward pack.

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will pair with Aaron Cruden in the halves, shifting Cruden’s understudy Kaleb Trask to the bench.

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Alex Nankivell will remain at second five-eighth, combining with All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown returning in the number thirteen jersey, shifting Quinn Tupaea to the bench in jersey 23.

The back three will feature the welcomed return of speedster Sam McNicol – who last played for the Chiefs in 2017 – on the left wing and in-form winger Sean Wainui on the right, with dynamic All Black fullback Damian McKenzie completing an elusive back three.

In the reserves, experienced front row cover in the form of hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho, and props Reuben O’Neill and Ross Geldenhuys will be joined by lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi and flanker Mitchell Karpik. Taranaki halfback Lisati Milo-Harris will look to come off the bench for his Super Rugby debut.

Gatland said he was pleased to return home for another entertaining battle.

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“It was great to collect another win on the road and allow several of our players to run out in the Gallagher Chiefs jersey for the first time this season. This week again we have a privilege to rotate a couple of players and provide the opportunity for several others to return for the Gallagher Chiefs.

“It will be great to have the likes of Luke Jacobson and Sam McNicol take the field for the first time this season. They are both talented individuals and have been training hard, so will be excited for the run.”

“We have another tough battle ahead of us on Saturday. The Brumbies are leading the Australian Conference and will be on the hunt for redemption following a close loss to the Highlanders last weekend. We know it will be an exciting and entertaining game for our fans to watch and it’s one the team are looking forward to,” said Gatland.

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Sam McNicol, Aaron Cruden, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Brown, Michael Allardice, Atu Moli, Bradley Slater, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Reuben O’Neill, Ross Geldenhuys, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Mitchell Karpik, Lisati Milo-Harris, Kaleb Trask, Quinn Tupaea.

– Chiefs Rugby

WATCH: Ben Lam and the Hurricanes will part way at the end of the season.

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