Rennie rings the changes
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made several changes to his team to play the Highlanders in their Super Rugby encounter.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made several changes to his team to play the Highlanders in their Super Rugby Round Six encounter at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Friday.
Co-captain Craig Clarke will sit out the match as a precautionary measure after receiving a slight knock to the head in the win over the Kings last week and will be replaced by Michael Fitzgerald.
Former Highlander Nick Crosswell will start in the No.8 jersey as Ross Filipo spends the next eight to 10 weeks recovering from his knee injury.
Pauliasi Manu starts at prop, while Ben Afeaki moves to the bench.
Richard Kahui could make his long-awaited comeback, and is bracketed on the bench with Patrick Osborne.
Rennie says he's expecting a similar battle to the Chiefs' hard-fought 41-27 win over the Highlanders on February 22.
"It was physical and fast and this week will be nothing less," the Chiefs mentor said.
"It will be a special game, as we will be honouring Liam Messam for becoming the first person to have played 100 matches for the Chiefs.
"To acknowledge his impressive achievement in front of our home crowd will be a great occasion."
Messam's special milestone - achieved against the Kings last week - will be celebrated at the Chiefs game with some special events at the match.
There will be Liam Messam Centurion poster giveaways and the public are encouraged to stay for a special post-match presentation to Messam - a true Chiefs Warrior.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Nick Crosswell, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshal, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Romana Graham/Fritz Lee, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 August Pulu, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Richard Kahui/Patrick Osborne.
Date: Friday, March 22
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand