Taumateine at scrumhalf for Chiefs
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has named a strong, regenerated line-up to take on Japan’s sole Super Rugby side, the Sunwolves.
There are two positional changes and nine personnel changes to the starting XV that defeated the Western Force 16-7 last Saturday.
In the forwards, there's a new look front row with Kane Hames and Nepo Laulala returning to the playing 23 to start in jerseys No.1 and No.3 respectively. Hika Elliot is promoted from the bench to start at hooker.
Dominic Bird retains his place at lock for the second consecutive week, partnering with Taleni Seu who moves from the reserves to start in jersey No.5.
Tom Sanders rejoins the playing 23 this week to start at blindside flank. He's joined in the loose forwards by Mitchell Karpik who gets his second start of the season at openside flank and co-captain Sam Cane who switches to No.8 this week.
The changes continue in the backs with Jonathan Taumateine named to make his first start for the Chiefs at scrumhalf.
He'll have plenty of support from experienced co-captain Aaron Cruden who starts at flyhalf for the fifth game in a row.
The two positional changes sees Sam McNicol switch from centre to the left wing, with Anton Lienert-Brown slotting into the vacated No.13 jersey from inside centre. Stephen Donald is promoted from the bench to start in jersey No.12. Solomon Alaimalo earns his second start of the season to play on the right wing and Damian McKenzie retains his spot as starting fullback.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Sam McNicol, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Sam Cane, 7 Mitchell Karpik, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Taleni Seu, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Alex Nankivell, 22 Shaun Stevenson, 23 James Lowe.
Date: Saturday, April 29
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT; 16.35 Japan time)
Referee: Will Houston (Australia)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)