Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland has made five changes and one positional switch to his starting XV for their derby with the Hurricanes in Hamilton on Sunday.
Following a credible performance against the Crusaders last week, Gatland has named an unchanged forward pack. However, injury has forced him to make changes to the side’s backline. Anton Lienert-Brown has been sidelined with concussion, meaning rookie Quinn Tupaea shifts into inside centre with Tumua Manu moving into the starting line-up at outside centre.
Electrifying full-back Damian McKenzie will run out for his 80th game in the Chiefs jersey.
In the reserves, young lock Tupou Vaa’i and rookie loose forward Dylan Nel return to the squad in the only two changes to the replacement forwards.
After running out for Rotoiti Rugby Club last weekend, experienced scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi returns to the matchday 23 and is joined by Bay of Plenty team-mate Kaleb Trask as backline cover. Waikato’s Solomon Alaimalo completes the line-up in jersey 23.
🔥 This clash in Hamilton on Sunday will be MASSIVE!
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) July 1, 2020
Gatland said they need to apply their learnings from previous encounters to deliver the performance they are after.
“Last week against the Crusaders we put on a solid performance but a few crucial moments cost us the win in a tight battle. We need to execute those opportunities to gain the win,” he told the Chiefs’ official website.
“There is a great rivalry between our two teams and the boys are eager to get one back after falling short before lockdown. The Hurricanes have some elusive attacking players and are a dangerous team with ball in hand.
“We know they will be refreshed and eager to get a win, just like us, so it will be a tight tussle and one we know families and fans will enjoy.”
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Dylan Nel, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Solomon Alaimalo
Date: Sunday, July 5
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Kick-off: 15:35 (04:35 BST, 03:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Angus Mabey
TMO: Glenn Newman