SA-born loosie starts for Chiefs
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Chiefs have ventured overseas this week and have travelled to Tokyo to face the Sunwolves at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland has made a number of changes to his side in week three of the Super Rugby competition, choosing to rest several experienced players.
Bradley Slater will earn his first start of the season, with Samisoni Taukei’aho providing cover on the bench. Aidan Ross and Atu Moli, will combine with Slater for a powerful front row.
Canadian international Tyler Ardron will pair with the experienced Michael Allardice as this week’s starting locking duo.
Former All Black loose forward Adam Thomson returns to Super Rugby making his Chiefs debut at six with Lachlan Boshier shifting to the openside.
Durban-born Dylan Nel will make his Super Rugby debut in the No.8 jersey.
Nel was lured to New Zealand four years ago by Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and accrued a few caps for Canterbury before joining Otago for last year’s NPC.
In the backs, halfback Brad Weber will captain the side in his first start of the season, seeing Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi shifting to the bench as cover. Weber will combine with flyhalf Kaleb Trask. Alex Nankivell moves into the midfield in jersey number 12. Shaun Stevenson the only other change to the backline will start on the right wing.
Journeyman Ross Geldenhuys will be joined by Chief debutant Reuben O’Neill in jersey’s 17 and 18 respectively. Naitoa Ah Kuoi will once again ably cover the locking duo with Mitchell Brown providing loose forward cover. flyhalf Tiaan Falcon makes a welcome return to Investec Super Rugby alongside midfielder Orbyn Leger.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Dylan Nel, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Mitchell Brown, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Tiaan Falcon, 23 Orbyn Leger.
Date: Saturday, February 15
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 12.45 (03.45 GMT; 16.45 NZ time)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Tasuku Kawahara (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)