Chiefs make massive playmaker change for Blues
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland has named his team to face an in-form Blues in Round Two of Super Rugby Aotearoa in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Chiefs are coming off a narrow 27-28 loss to the Highlanders in Round One.
Lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi will move from the bench into the starting XV in jersey No.5 to combine with last week’s debutant Tupou Vaa’i, in the only changes to the Chiefs forward pack.
All Blacks scrumhalf Brad Weber will again captain the side in the absence of Chiefs and All Blacks Captain Sam Cane. Weber will combine with experienced flyhalf Aaron Cruden at No.10 in the only change from last week’s starting backline, with Bay of Plenty’s Kaleb Trask providing cover on the bench.
The Chiefs reinforcements of prop Reuben O’Neill, loose forward veteran Adam Thomson, rookie Lisati Milo-Harris and electrifying back Solomon Alaimalo will complete an exciting twenty-three.
Wing Shaun Stevenson will run out for his 50th cap for the Chiefs.
“Shaun is a talented player, who has great attacking ability,” said Gatland. “He has already demonstrated that earlier this year on a number of occasions and we hope this weekend he can celebrate in a similar fashion.”
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Dylan Nel, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Solomon Alaimalo.
Date: Saturday, June 20
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.05 (07.05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Paul Williams
TMO: James Doleman