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Chiefs’ Cruden to earn 100th cap against Blues

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Hamilton based Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs have named their team to play the Blues at FMG Stadium Waikato in what is being dubbed as the “Battle of the Bombays”.

Both teams will be coming off opening round victories but the Chiefs will have home advantage.

Friday’s fixture is particularly special for Chiefs co-captain Aaron Cruden, with the outstanding first five-eighth to play in his 100th Super Rugby game.

The remarkable milestone is testament to the dedication, determination and resilience Cruden has exhibited countless times in his 28-years, making him the exceptional leader of Chiefs he is today. Cruden’s teammates will be looking to honour his achievement through a match-winning performance in their first home game of the 2017 season.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has named a formidable 23 to take on the Blues, with seven changes to the team that defeated the Highlanders 24-15 in Dunedin last Friday. In the forwards, the experienced tight five remains the same for the second consecutive week.

A reshuffle in the loose forwards sees Liam Messam move to blindside flanker from number 8, Lachlan Boshier is promoted from the bench to start at seven and Michael Leitch makes his first appearance for 2017 at number 8.

There is just one change in the backs, with Tim Nanai-Williams moving from the bench to start in jersey 14. In the reserves, the front row cover is unchanged, while Taleni Seu is an exciting replacement option in jersey 19 alongside Tom Sanders who could make his first appearance for 2017 in jersey 20. Speedster Toni Pulu moves to the bench to join Jonathan Taumateine and Shaun Stevenson as backs cover.

Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham, Nathan Harris, James Tucker, Glen Fisiiahi, Chase Tiatia, Michael Allardice, Charlie Ngatai, Sam McNicol, Liam Polwart, Sam Cane and Stephen Donald were all unavailable for selection.

Chiefs

1. Kane Hames (10), 2. Hika Elliot (105), 3. Nepo Laulala (1), 4. Dominic Bird (12), 5. Brodie Retallick (72), 6. Liam Messam (147), 7. Lachlan Boshier (9), 8. Michael Leitch (23), 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (68), 10. Aaron Cruden (captain) (74), 11. James Lowe (38), 12. Johnny Faauli (1), 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (25), 14. Tim Nanai-Williams (78), 15. Damian McKenzie (34)

Replacements : 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (1), 17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (12), 18. Atu Moli (12), 19. Taleni Seu (19), 20. Tom Sanders (15), 21. Jonathan Taumateine (1), 22. Toni Pulu (14), 23. Shaun Stevenson (8),

* Chiefs caps in brackets

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