Chiefs bring in Japanese star
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Japan captain Michael Leitch will make his first appearance of the 2017 Super Rugby season when he runs out at No.8 for the Battle of the Bombays in Waikato on Friday.
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made a total of seven changes to the team that defeated the Highlanders 24-15 in Dunedin, three of which to the starting XV.
Leitch has been brought in, with Liam Messam shifting to blindside flank while Lachlan Boshier is promoted from the bench to start at openside. The tight five remains unchanged.
There is just one change in the backline as Tim Nanai-Williams starts on the wing after being promoted from the bench while Toni Pulu moves to the bench to join Jonathan Taumateine and Shaun Stevenson as backs cover.
Taleni Seu is an exciting replacement option alongside Tom Sanders, who could make his first appearance for 2017.
It is going to be a special night for captain Aaron Cruden as he is set to run out in his 100th Super Rugby game and would be hoping to put in a match-winning performance in the Chiefs' first home game of the season.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Toni Pulu, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Date: Friday, March 3
Venue: FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)