Massive milestone for Messam against Bulls
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Veteran loose forward Liam Messam will run out for his 150th game for the Chiefs against the Bulls at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Messam is part of an experienced line-up that will take the field in his milestone game. In the forwards, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi will start for the first time this season, packing down alongside Hika Elliot and Nepo Laulala. Dominic Bird and Brodie Retallick partner in the second row for the fifth consecutive game.
Messam moves from No.8 to start at blindside flank, with co-captain Sam Cane and Michael Leitch completing the formidable loose forward trio in No.7 and No.8 respectively.
In the backs, Tawera Kerr-Barlow will don the No.9 jersey again this week, with Aaron Cruden returning to the starting fifteen to start at flyhalf. Johnny Faauli is promoted from the bench to partner Anton Lienert-Brown in the midfield.
James Lowe is back on the left wing this week, with Shaun Stevenson and Damian McKenzie completing the backline.
Southland hooker Brayden Mitchell could make his Chiefs debut off the bench.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Kane Hames, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Solomon Alaimalo.
Date: Saturday, April 1
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (08.35 SA Time; 06.35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)