McKenzie at 10 for Chiefs

Date published: March 15 2017

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made extensive changes for their clash with the Rebels at AAMI Park, with Damian McKenzie named at 10.

In the forwards, Bay of Plenty hooker Sabastian Siataga earns his first start of his Super Rugby career after impressing in his debut off the bench in the 26-18 win over the Hurricanes last Friday. Siataga will pack down alongside Kane Hames and Nepo Laulala, who start in jerseys 1 and 3 respectively for the fourth consecutive week.

The second-row remains unchanged from the opening three rounds, with Dominic Bird and Brodie Retallick set to continue their impressive locking partnership again this Friday. Co-captain Sam Cane will don the number 7 jersey in his second appearance of the season. He is joined by Tom Sanders and veteran Liam Messam who return to the 23 this week to complete the loose forward trio.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow makes his fourth consecutive start of the season at scrum-half. There are a number of exciting changes in the backline beginning with McKenzie who will start at fly-half. Stephen Donald will start in jersey 12, with Anton Lienert-Brown shifting out this week to start at outside centre.

21-year-old Northland outside back Solomon Alaimalo will make his Super Rugby debut on the left wing, with Toni Pulu retaining the number 14 jersey. The evasive Shaun Stevenson should prove a handful at full-back in his first start of the 2017 season.

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (cc), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Sabastian Siataga, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Aaron Cruden (cc), 23 Johnny Faauli

Date: Friday, March 17
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 19:45 local (08:45 GMT)
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant Referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

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