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Chiefs name ten All Blacks in team for Highlanders

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Hamilton based Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs have named their team to play the Highlanders in their 2017 Super Rugby season opener on Friday.

“I feel like a 10-year-old kid again, I’m just really excited to lace up my boots and play some rugby.” – these words from Mitchell Karpik shared ahead of his Super Rugby debut this Friday, aptly encapsulates the mood in camp two days out from the Chiefs 2017 campaign opener against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Karpik, 21, is one of four exciting young players in line to make their Investec Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs this weekend.

He’s joined in the starting lineup by 21-year-old Taranaki livewire Johnny Faauli who will start his first game at second five-eighth, while 19-year-old Waikato hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and Counties Manukau halfback Jonathan Taumateine, 20, could earn their first caps off the bench.

All Black prop Nepo Laulala will also don the Gallagher Chiefs jersey for the first time after diligently working his way back from a knee injury sustained in January 2016.

In addition to the four promising youngsters, Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has selected a vastly experienced and determined lineup to set the benchmark for the side’s 2017 campaign.

The starting fifteen features ten players with All Blacks experience, interlaced with several gutsy high performers looking to make a statement come Friday night.

Chiefs

1. Kane Hames (9),2.Hika Elliot (104),3. Nepo Laulala*,4. Dominic Bird (11),5. Brodie Retallick (71),6. Taleni Seu (18),7. Mitchell Karpik**,8. Liam Messam (146),9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (67),10. Aaron Cruden (captain) (73),11. James Lowe (37),12. Johnny Faauli**,13. Anton Lienert-Brown (24),14. Toni Pulu (13),15. Damian McKenzie (33)

Replacements : 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho**,17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (11),18. Atu Moli (11)
19. Mitchell Brown (3), 20. Lachlan Boshier (8) ,21. Jonathan Taumateine**m, 22. Tim Nanai-Williams (77) ,23. Shaun Stevenson (7)

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