Chiefs forced to rejig backline

08th May 2013, 12:27

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Starting at 10: Gareth Anscombe

Starting at 10: Gareth Anscombe

A spate of injuries has prompted the Chiefs to make major changes to their backline for Friday's Super Rugby clash with the Force.

A spate of injuries has prompted the Chiefs to make major changes to their backline for Friday's Super Rugby clash with the Force in Pukekohe.

With Tim Nanai-Williams (groin) injury, Charlie Ngatai (hamstring), Andrew Horrell (ankle) sprain and Richard Kahui (shoulder) all missing due to injury, coach Dave Rennie has been forced into a substantial reshuffle.

That means yet another midfield combination as former New Zealand Sevens player Save Tokula will start in the number 13 jersey in his sixth game for the Chiefs.

Scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow also gets his first start since breaking his jaw and will team up with Gareth Anscombe, who moves from full-back to fly-half.

Robbie Robinson comes in for his first start of the season at full-back, having recovered from a persistent groin injury.

Patrick Osborne will start on the wing while two players who have started every game this year, Aaron Cruden and Asaeli Tikoirotuma move to the bench.

Prop Ben Afeaki makes his long awaited return from injury and is joined in an all-changed front row by Hika Elliot and Toby Smith.

"We are in the third mini leg of our season which is hugely important. We are well aware of the strength of this Force team. They have beaten the Reds and Crusaders and went close to the Hurricanes, which proves they can travel, so we need to be at our best," said coach Rennie.

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 1Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

Date: Friday, May 10
Venue: ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Nick Briant and Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri