Battered Chiefs to use Filipo again

Date published: May 26 2015

The Chiefs will welcome back lock Michael Fitzgerald when they face the Highlanders in Invercargill on Saturday but that's the only good news they have on the injury front.

Fitzgerald is ready to play after missing last weekend's win over the Bulls with a thigh injury, but the Hamilton-based side's second row stocks are still thin with Brodie Retallick (shoulder) and Matt Symons (concussion) still on the injured list.

Retallick has missed three matches since his injury, which was sustained in the Chiefs' win over the Western Force in Hamilton, and also spent five weeks on the sidelines earlier in the season when he injured his other shoulder.

He participated in a training session on Tuesday but Chiefs boss Dave Rennie said there was still uncertainty over his fitness.

"We'll get confirmation from our medics and he'll have a pretty light day today anyway and we'll know a bit more tomorrow, make a decision based on how he bounces back from today," Rennie told Fairfax Media.

"He's really close but could well end up playing against the Reds [in Brisbane next week] instead, because we certainly don't want to push him if he's not a hundy and lose him for the rest of the comp."

With Michael Allardice and Johan Bardoul both ruled out for the rest of the season with knee injuries, and Symons still battling to overcome his concussion battle, former All Black Ross Filipo is set to be retained for at least another week along with rookie Waikato lock Brian Alainu'uese.

"I wouldn't say we're confident [about Symons' chances of playing] and again we won't take a risk with him," added Rennie.

"He took his knock against the Rebels so it has been a few weeks, but he is on the improve. We're hopeful but no guarantees.

Amongst the backline players, inside centre Sonny Bill Williams is set to miss his third successive match due to a back strain while full-back Tom Marshall will also join him on the crocked list with a knee injury.

That means that young midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown has been withdrawn from New Zealand's squad for World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy and will be replaced by Taranaki's Sean Wainui.

"With the injuries we've got at the moment – obviously with Tom Marshall, James Lowe, Aaron [Cruden] and Sonny [Bill Williams] plus a question mark over a couple of the other guys he's now going to remain here," explained Rennie.

"There are a number of these guys who are injured at the moment that we hope to get back in two or three weeks and that will make a big difference."