Chiefs Super rugby head coach Colin Cooper has named a team with seven changes for their match on Saturday against the Sharks in Durban.
The Chiefs have lost Nathan Harris, Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown to the All Blacks which has forced some change to the side.
In the forwards, Liam Polwart starts at hooker for Harris, Tyler Ardron moves to lock in place of Retallick and the impressive Pita Gus Sowakula gets a start in the number eight jersey.
In the backs, Charlie Ngatai moves into centre for Lienert-Brown and Shaun Stevenson starts at fullback after a bright cameo off the bench last weekend.
Replacement player Matt Matich is named in the reserves and could make his debut for the Chiefs and Luteru Laulala will take the number 22 jersey after linking up with the team this week.
It’s also an exciting game for powerful prop Sosefo Kautai who is named on the bench for the first time this season after making four appearances in his debut campaign last year.
An outstanding milestone awaits Co-Captain Charlie Ngatai who will take the field for the 50th time in Chiefs colours. Ngatai is a fan favourite in Chiefs Country and Cooper emphasised how special it is to have a player of his calibre in the team.
“Charlie can play in a lot of positions because he’s a world class player. We are very lucky to have a player of that calibre and for him to play his fiftieth game is great for the team to unite behind him. I can’t speak highly enough of Charlie, I’ve been coaching with him for a long time and he’s a special man and a special player.”
Head Coach Colin Cooper is looking forward to the challenge the Sharks will bring in Durban.
“We are in our second week of this tough tour and we were very happy to beat the Stormers. We are looking forward to a great contest in Durban against the Sharks. It’s going to be another tough game for us, but we are really excited about the challenge ahead. The team has united really quickly and we are certainly looking forward to the challenge in the Shark Tank.”
The teams last met in 2016 at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth. The game went down to the wire with the Chiefs winning 24-22, and we could be in store for another tight encounter on the weekend.
15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Charlie Ngatai (captain), 12 Johnny Fa’auli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Liam Messam, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Replacements:16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Luteru Laulala, 23 Toni Pulu