Super Rugby

Gatland makes big Chiefs changes for Sharks

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Chiefs Super rugby head coach Warren Gatland has made a raft of changes to his side named to face the Brumbies at their home FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton.

An unchanged front row will be joined by a new locking duo of Michael Allardice and Mitchell Brown.

All Black flanker Luke Jacobson returns at six, Chiefs captain Sam Cane at seven and the powerful Pita Gus Sowakula returning to start at number eight to complete an experienced forward pack.

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will pair with Aaron Cruden in the halves, shifting Cruden’s understudy Kaleb Trask to the bench.

Alex Nankivell will remain at second five-eighth combining with All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown returning in the number thirteen jersey, shifting Quinn Tupaea to the bench in jersey 23.

The back three will feature the welcomed return of speedster Sam McNicol on the left wing and in form winger Sean Wainui on the right, with dynamic All Black fullback Damian McKenzie completing an elusive back three.

In the reserves, experienced front-row cover in hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho, props Reuben O’Neill and Ross Geldenhuys will be joined by lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi and flanker Mitchell Karpik. Taranaki halfback Lisati Milo-Harris will look to come off the bench for his Super Rugby debut.

Gatland said he was pleased to return home for another entertaining battle.

“It was great to collect another win on the road and allow several of our players to run out in the Chiefs jersey for the first time this season. This week again we have a privilege to rotate a couple of players and provide the opportunity for several others to return for the Chiefs. It will be great to have the likes of Luke Jacobson and Sam McNicol take the field for the first time this season. They are both talented individuals and have been training hard, so will be excited for the run.”

“We have another tough battle ahead of us on Saturday. The Brumbies are leading the Australian Conference and will be on the hunt for redemption following a close loss to the Highlanders last weekend. We know it will be an exciting and entertaining game for our fans to watch and it’s one the team are looking forward to,” said Gatland.

Chiefs

Damian McKenzie, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Sam McNicol, Aaron Cruden, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Brown, Michael Allardice, Atu Moli, Bradley Slater, Aidan Ross.

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Reuben O’Neill, Ross Geldenhuys, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Mitchell Karpik, Lisati Milo-Harris, Kaleb Trask, Quinn Tupaea.

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