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Gibbes ready to lead the Chiefs’ charge

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Jono Gibbes will return to the Chiefs’ starting line-up to lead them out when they take on two-time Super 12 champions, the Brumbies, in their 2007 Super 14 season-opener.


The hard-working lock has been out of the Chiefs starting XV throughout their pre-season action, but, after making a surprise appearance as a replacement against the Blues last Thursday, he is ready to assume the captaincy role in Hamilton on Saturday.


Chiefs coach Ian Foster has named two new caps for Saturday – rookie Dwayne Sweeney will start at fullback, while Pacific Islanders Test cap, outside centre Tane Tu’ipulotu, will run on for his first match since transferring from the Hurricanes.


Chiefs coach Ian Foster says the new Chiefs in the backline will inject plenty of enthusiasm into the side.


“But at the same time we need to concentrate on our decision making as we go into Round One. Dwayne has impressed at number 15 in the limited time he has had in this position, as well as in his pre-season work and general play.


“Tane is starting a new chapter in his rugby career with our franchise. I’m sure he will enjoy the chance to get into a starting jersey after not having this opportunity in past seasons with the Hurricanes,” adds Foster.


In the forwards, Foster has opted for the loose forward starting trio of Steven Bates, Marty Holah and Liam Messam. Holah will in fact play his 70th consecutive Chiefs game on Saturday. Openside specialist Tanerau Latimer is on the reserve bench, while Sione Lauaki is unavailable for selection due to a broken wrist.


Kristian Ormsby will partner Gibbes with locking duties, with rookie Chief Toby Lynn covering this position off the bench.


The Chiefs, who have been on an upward curve since 2004, but only managed a mid-table finish last year, will be hoping to secure a home win first up to see the commencement of a successful 2007 campaign – which could see them as strong contenders for a semi-final berth.


Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Sosene Anesi, 13 Niva Ta’auso, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Anthony Tahana, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Steven Bates, 5 Kristian Ormsby, 4 Jono Gibbes (captain), 3 Nathan White, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Simms Davison
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Tasesa Lavea, 22 Lelia Masaga


Date: Saturday, 3 February
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT; 17.35 AEDST)
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Touch judges: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa), Gary Wise (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)



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