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No McKenzie, Weber or Cane in Chiefs team to play Rebels

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The Chiefs will turn to a new-look halves combination and the high-flying Shaun Stevenson on Saturday when they take on the Rebels without a number of their All Blacks stars.


After starting their season with three big victories, Super Rugby veterans Damian McKenzie, Brad Weber and Brodie Retallick have proven themselves to be among the form players of the competition.

Playmaker Damian McKenzie was especially impressive across the opening three rounds of the campaign, having returned to the Chiefs following a sabbatical in Japan.

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But the ladder-leaders will look to extend their unbeaten streak to four games without some of their key players when they take the field at FMG Stadium.

Co-captains Brad Weber and Sam Cane have not been named in this weeks team, and neither has McKenzie or All Blacks centurion Brodie Retallick.

The Chiefs have made some significant changes ahead of their clash with the Rebels in Hamilton. In total, Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan has made eight changes to his starting XV.

All Black Samisoni Taukei’aho has been relegated to the bench, with Tyrone Thompson set to start in the No. 2 jumper.


Along with Retallick, Tupou Vaa’i has also been left out of the team – with McMillian turning to a new-look second row combination. For the first time this season, Retallick and Vaa’i won’t start for the Chiefs.

Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Manaaki Selby-Rickit have been given the nod to start in their place at FMG Stadium.


Loose forward Luke Jacobson will captain the side from the openside flank, and will pack alongside Samipeni Finau and Pita Gus Sowakula in the backrow.

But the biggest shock – and potentially the biggest risk – is the new-look combination in the halves.


Rising star Cortez Ratima will start at halfback, and will partner Bryn Gatland who is set to run out in the No. 10 jersey.

The rest of the backline remains unchanged following last weeks 28-7 win over the Highlanders.

But the Chiefs certainly pack a punch with their bench this week, having named capped All Blacks Taukei’aho, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Josh Ioane.

The match against the Melbourne Rebels is set to get underway at 4:35pm NZT at FMG Stadium, Hamilton.


Chiefs to take on the Rebels

  1. Aidan Ross
  2. Tyrone Thompson
  3. John Ryan
  4. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
  5. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
  6. Samipeni Finau
  7. Luke Jacobson (c)
  8. Pita Gus Sowakula
  9. Cortez Ratima
  10. Bryn Gatland
  11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
  12. Rameka Poihipi
  13. Alex Nankivell
  14. Emoni Narawa
  15. Shaun Stevenson



  1. Samisoni Taukei’aho
  2. Ollie Norris
  3. George Dyer
  4. Laghlan McWhannell
  5. Kaylum Boshier
  6. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
  7. Josh Ioane
  8. Peniasi Malimali

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Jon 1 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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