'He’s had a treacherous run with injury'
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan has named his team to face the Brumbies on home soil following their nail-biting 20-19 win over the Western Force last weekend.
Four changes have been made to the Chiefs starting XV to take on the Brumbies. Hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and tighthead prop Sione Mafileo will join loosehead prop Aidan Ross in the starting front row.
Chiefs veteran Liam Messam earns his first start since being called into the squad at six, with Pita Gus Sowakula named on the bench as cover in jersey twenty.
The only change in the starting backline is Waikato utility back Bailyn Sullivan, who has the opportunity to light up the right wing, combining with Jonah Lowe on the left wing and Chase Tiatia at fullback.
In the reserves, it is expected Atu Moli will be eager to make an impact off the bench following his return from injury. Moli is joined by Bradley Slater who edges his way back into the twenty-three as the replacement hooker. Midfielder Rameka Poihipi and versatile back Kaleb Trask will ably provide cover for the Chiefs backline.
McMillan acknowledged the Brumbies are a clinical side and will provide a great challenge in front of a home crowd at Waikato Stadium.
“We respect the Brumbies right across the board, they are probably the most clinical of the Australian sides, a bit like the Crusaders they are really structured and put a lot of pressure on you at set piece. They are a good side irrespective of who we have selected to play, and we will be challenged, but will enjoy being spurred on at home by our loyal fans.”
McMillan is excited to see Moli return for the Chiefs this weekend.
“We are really happy for Atu, he’s had a treacherous run with injury, but has maintained a whole lot of positivity and continues to add heaps of value off the field in and around our environment. He has worked himself back to a point where he is ready to get back on the field and it is great for everyone in rugby to see.”
Chiefs: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Bailyn Sullivan, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Jonah Lowe, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Rameka Poihipi, 23 Kaleb Trask.
Date: Saturday, May 22
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.05 (17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Dan Waenga
TMO: Aaron Paterson