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Quinn Tupaea makes surprise positional shift for Chiefs clash against Waratahs

By Alex McLeod
Quinn Tupaea Chiefs

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All Blacks midfielder Quinn Tupaea has made a surprise positional shift for the Super Rugby clash between the Chiefs and Waratahs at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday.

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Tupaea has been named on the left wing as one of eight changes made to the starting lineup by Chiefs boss Clayton McMillan following on from his side’s 45-12 win over Moana Pasifika in Hamilton last weekend.

The seven-test All Black takes the place of Etene Nanai-Seturo, a standout at FMG Stadium Waikato four days ago, in the No 11 jersey to create a new outside back trio that includes Jonah Lowe, who slots onto the right wing in place of Shaun Stevenson.

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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific | Aotearoa Rugby Pod
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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific | Aotearoa Rugby Pod

Stevenson (knee) and co-captain Brad Weber (shoulder) were two injury casualties from the Moana Pasifika match, adding to an injury list that also features All Blacks trio Brodie Retallick (thumb), Anton Lienert-Brown (shoulder) and Josh Ioane (ribs).

How long Stevenson and Weber are unavailable for will be determined after visits to specialists later this week, with the latter’s absence allowing youngster Cortez Ratima a second successive starting opportunity at halfback.

The rest of the personnel changes come in the forward pack, which is headlined by an overhauled loose forward trio comprised of All Blacks flanker Luke Jacobson, co-captain Sam Cane and in-form No 8 Pita Gus Sowakula.

All Blacks hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and loosehead prop Aidan Ross also come into the starting front row, with last week’s starters Bradley Slater and Ollie Norris demoted to the bench.

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Slater and Norris are two of four new faces on the bench, with the others being young halves Xavier Roe and Rivez Reihana, and midfielder Inga Finau, who is in line for his Chiefs debut after having played for the Crusaders earlier this season.

In addition to the squad named to face the Waratahs, the Chiefs will take an additional four players – Atu Moli, Tyrone Thompson Kaylum Boshier and Kaleb Trask – with them to Melbourne, while Mitch Brown will link up with the side after this week’s match.

McMillan is eager to use the Waratahs match as his side’s springboard for the final stretch of the regular season ahead of the playoff series in June.

“We’re focused on growth in our game as there were some things we made progress on during the first half of the competition and some areas that we got exposed,” McMillan said in a statement on Wednesday.

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“We back ourselves to get to a quarter-final and when you get to that point it’s a one-off game. So it’s about finding as much growth as you can between now and then to give yourself a decent chance.”

Kick-off for Friday’s match between the Chiefs and Waratahs is scheduled for 8pm [NZT].

Chiefs team to play Waratahs

1. Aidan Ross
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
3. Angus Ta’avao
4. Josh Lord
5. Tupou Vaa’i
6. Luke Jacobson
7. Sam Cane
8. Pita Gus Sowakula
9. Cortez Ratima
10. Bryn Gatland
11. Quinn Tupaea
12. Rameka Poihipi
13. Alex Nankivell
14. Jonah Lowe
15. Chase Tiatia

Reserves:

16. Bradley Slater
17. Ollie Norris
18. George Dyer
19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
20. Samipeni Finau
21. Xavier Roe
22. Rivez Reihana
23. Inga Finau*

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