Chiefs make eleven changes

Date published: February 26 2015

The Chiefs have made a whopping eleven changes to their starting XV for Saturday's Kiwi derby against the Crusaders at Waikato Stadium.

There are four positional switches amongst the changes as a handful of All Blacks are injected into the starting XV.

Coach Dave Rennie has shuffled his forward pack, bringing Pauliasi Manu, Ben Tameifuna, Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane into the starting line-up, moving Mike Fitzgerald to flanker with captain Liam Messam continuing at number eight, replacing the injured Maama Vaipulu.

All Black Augustine Pulu gets the nod at scrum-half, Sonny Bill Williams reclaims the inside centre jersey after being declared fit to play with Charlie Ngatai moving back to 13.

James Lowe moves back to left wing due to the return from injury of Tom Marshall at full-back.

Prop Siate Tokolahi moves into the reserves and is joined by Taranaki prop Mitchell Graham, one of the 2015 Rugby Almanack’s “Promising Players of the Year”,  who has the potential to get his first taste of Investec Super Rugby. Loose forward Johan Bardoul is the only other addition to the pine.

One of the only three unbeaten teams after two rounds of Super Rugby, the Chiefs know how significant these games have become.

"Our matches against the Crusaders have become very competitive and combative encounters," said Rennie.

"Everyone loves to play in these fixtures as they are the closest thing you can get to a Test match, so it should set up a great spectacle for the fans."

Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Liam Messam (c) 7 Sam Cane, 6 Michael Fitzgerald, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Sean Polwart, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Seta Tamanivalu.

Date: Saturday, 28 February
Venue: Waikato Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)