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Chiefs out for revenge with first team naming of 2024

By Ned Lester
Tupou Vaa'i of the Chiefs celebrates a penalty during the round 10 Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Crusaders at FMG Stadium Waikato, on April 29, 2023, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Chiefs’ first game of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season is a blockbuster. A rematch of the final they lost last year at their home ground in Hamilton.

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With the Crusaders bringing a new-look and already wounded team north for the clash, it’s a huge opportunity for the Chiefs to again set the tone for the season.

Some surprises have come out of the team-naming, with All Black hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho set to appear off the bench in the clash, joined by All Blacks XV halfback Cortez Ratima.

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Bradley Slater will start at hooker and Xavier Roe – who scored the team’s best bronco time in pre-season – will wear the No.9 jersey.

There are seven All Blacks featuring in the starting XV, with Damian McKenzie, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown and Shaun Stevenson highlighting what promises to be one of the most electric backlines in the competition. Emoni Narawa is absent from the team list as he recovers from the back injury that ruled him out of the Rugby World Cup.

“It’s an exciting way to kick off the DHL Super Rugby Pacific season, and we look forward to hosting the Crusaders who are a formidable opposition.” Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan said.

“There were some tough conversations in selecting the team this week, with several of our younger squad members impressing through pre-season and pushing hard for inclusion. But you can’t underestimate the value of time in the middle, so we have selected a largely experienced and settled side who understand what will be coming at them come Friday night.”

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Chiefs team to face the Crusaders:

  1. Aidan Ross
  2. Bradley Slater
  3. Reuben O’Neill
  4. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
  5. Tupou Vaai
  6. Samipeni Finau
  7. Kalyum Boshier
  8. Luck Jacobson (c)
  9. Xavier Roe
  10. Damian McKenzie
  11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
  12. Quinn Tupaea
  13. Anton Lienert-Brown
  14. Liam Coombes-Fabling
  15. Shaun Stevenson

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Jimmy Tupou, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Daniel Rona

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