Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Warren Gatland has named his side to face the Blues in their opening game of the 2020 Investec Super Rugby season at the earlier kick-off time of 7.05pm at Eden Park.

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The selected twenty-three will see three debutants in Waikato centre Quinn Tupaea and Bay of Plenty first five-eighth Kaleb Trask, named in the starting fifteen and Wellington lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi hoping to debut off the bench.

The front row will feature loose head prop Aidan Ross pack down alongside tighthead All Black prop Nepo Laulala and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho. Tyler Ardron and Mitchell Brown will be the starting locking duo with debutant Ah Kuoi covering on the bench. In the loose forwards Lachlan Boshier and Mitchell Karpik will be at six and seven respectively, with Gallagher Chiefs Captain Sam Cane packing down the scrum at number eight.

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In the backs, halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will combine with 21-year-old Trask at ten. In the midfield Alex Nankivell will don the number 12 jersey, with Tupaea named at centre. A familiar back three will start with Solomon Alaimalo on the left wing and Sean Wainui on the right and crafty full back Damian McKenzie to complete an exciting backline.

Gallagher Chiefs rookie hooker Bradley Slater will be joined by an experienced bench of props in All Blacks Atu Moli and Angus Ta’avao. Pita Gus Sowakula will provide loose forward cover. Backline cover will feature a ton of experience in All Black Brad Weber, returning first five-eighth Aaron Cruden and All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown.

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Gatland said he was looking forward to seeing a competitive battle between the northern rivals.

“We have an exciting squad and we believe the team we have chosen reflects this. It is a great opportunity for our rookies to pull on the Gallagher Chiefs jersey for the first time in what is expected to be a great competitive derby between two rival sides. We know the Blues will be a good sturdy challenge first up but one the boys and fans are excited about.”

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Sean Wainui, Quinn Tupaea, Alex Nankivell, Solomon Alaimalo, Kaleb Trask, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Sam Cane (c), Mitchell Karpik, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Tyler Ardron, Nepo Laulala, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Atu Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Anton Lienert-Brown.

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– Chiefs Rugby

Catch up on all of the very best from Round 3 of the Top League, featuring a host of international stars including Carter, Retallick, Kerevi, Marks, Giteau, Snyman, Read, and many more:

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