Former All Blacks full-back Mils Muliaina will make his return to Super Rugby for the Chiefs in Friday's opener against the Crusaders.
Former All Black Mils Muliaina will make his return to Super Rugby for the Chiefs in Friday's New Zealand Conference opener against the Crusaders.
The 33-year-old will start at full-back in Christchurch, having returned from a two-season stint in Japan.
Also back from Japan is loose forward Kane Thompson, who starts at number eight.
Former Crusader Robbie Fruean makes his debut at outside centre while ex-Highlanders prop Jamie Mackintosh also make his first appearance for the two-time defending champions.
The Chiefs have a long injury list so several young players have been given a chance with Tasman's Tevita Kolomatangi to debut at openside flanker and Nathan Harris, James Lowe, Matt Symons, Liam Squire and Anton Lienert-Brown named on the bench.
“We have a lot of respect for the Crusaders and are excited by this match-up,”said head coach Dave Rennie.
“The boys have been training since November and we have been planning since August, so we are really looking forward to the competition starting properly.”
Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, (c), 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tevita Koloamatangi, 6 Liam Messam, (C) 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Matt Symons/Liam Squire, 20 Nick Crosswell, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Andrew Horrell/Anton Leinert-Brown, 23 James Lowe.
Date: Friday, February 21
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (08.35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)