Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made three changes to his starting XV for Friday’s clash with the Blues in Hamilton.
In the forwards, the experienced tight five remains the same for the second consecutive week. A reshuffle in the loose forwards sees Liam Messam move to blindside flanker from number eight, Lachlan Boshier is promoted from the bench to start at seven and Michael Leitch makes his first appearance for 2017 at number eight.
There is just one change in the backs, with Tim Nanai-Williams moving from the bench to start on the right wing.
In the reserves, the front row cover is unchanged, while Taleni Seu is an exciting replacement option in jersey 19 alongside Tom Sanders who could make his first appearance for 2017 in jersey 20. Speedster Toni Pulu moves to the bench to join Jonathan Taumateine and Shaun Stevenson as backs cover.
Rennie and his charges are on a high after they defeated the Highlanders 24-15 in their tournament opener Dunedin last week.
Friday’s fixture is particularly special for Chiefs co-captain Aaron Cruden, with the outstanding fly-half to play in his 100th Super Rugby game.
Cruden’s career started at the Hurricanes who he represented in 25 matches between 2010 and 2011 before moving to the Chiefs in 2012 where he went on to play 74 games.
The remarkable milestone is testament to the dedication, determination and resilience Cruden has exhibited countless times in his 28-years, making him the exceptional leader of Chiefs he is today.
Cruden’s team-mates will be looking to honour his achievement through a match-winning performance in their first home game of the 2017 season.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Toni Pulu, 23 Shaun Stevenson
Date: Friday, March 3
Venue: FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)