Chiefs make wholesale changes for Blues clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENTS: Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan has named his team to face the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.
The youthful matchday 23 includes six debutants, providing players with the opportunity to put their hand up to stake their claim for selection in the coming weeks.
Propping duo of Ollie Norris and Sione Mafileo are promoted from the bench to start alongside hooker Bradley Slater who re-joins the twenty-three.
Locking duo of Samipeni Finau and Josh Lord will start in jersey’s four and five. Counties Manukau loose froward Viliami Taulani and Tongan International Zane Kapeli will don jersey six and seven respectively for their Super Rugby debuts.
Powerful Pita Gus Sowakula remains unchanged, starting at No.8.
In the backs, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi shifts to start combining with flyhalf Bryn Gatland. Rameka Poihipi is promoted to start at inside centre with Alex Nankivell sidelined by injury.
Poihipi combines with Sean Wainui who will captain the side for the first time. Shaun Stevenson and Bailyn Sullivan will excite fans on the wings, while playmaker Kaleb Trask will start in the No.15 jersey.
In the reserves, hooker Nathan Harris will be joined by hopeful debutant Ezekiel Lindenmuth and tighthead prop Joe Apikotoa as front row replacements. Experienced campaigner Liam Messam returns for his 180th cap in the Chiefs jersey after being called into the squad earlier this week.
Messam will line up beside Taranaki debutant Tom Florence as loose forward cover. Halfback Xavier Roe returns for his second cap, with exciting utility cover in Rivez Reihana and University of Waikato Chiefs Under-20 captain Gideon Wrampling to complete the twenty-three. Reihana and Wrampling will also be hoping to make their Sky Super Rugby debuts.
Chiefs: 15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Bailyn Sullivan, 13 Sean Wainui (captain), 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Shaun Stevenson, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Zane Kapeli, 6 Viliami Taulani, 5 Josh Lord, 4 Samipeni Finau, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Ollie Norris.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Tom Florence, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Rivez Reihana, 23 Gideon Wrampling.
Date: Saturday, May 1
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.05 (07.05 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Paul Williams
TMO: Brendon Pickerill