Messam packs down at No.8

Wed, 24 May 2017 08:47
Large liam messam chiefs glares 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Liam Messam has been moved off the bench to start at the back of the scrum for the Chiefs for their match against the Blues at Eden Park on Friday.

Messam replaces Michael Leitch who misses the match altogether in one of three changes to the side that lost 24-31 to the Crusaders in the previous round.

The other changes are in the backline where Johnny Faauli returns to the playing 23 to start at inside centre. The potent mid-fielder reunites with Anton Lienert-Brown who moves to outside centre for the Battle of the Bombays as Sam McNicol was not available for selection this week.

The final seeding order of the tightly contested New Zealand Conference is still anybody's guess just four rounds shy of the 2017 Super Rugby playoffs.

What can be guaranteed however, is that come Friday, two highly motivated and courageous Kiwi sides will throw everything at each other in the hopes of securing a win, which could prove season-defining.

Unavailable for selection: Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham, Glen Fisiiahi, Liam Polwart, Charlie Ngatai, Sam McNicol, Stephen Donald and Toni Pulu. 

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Solomon Alaimalo, 23 Shaun Stevenson.

Date: Friday, May 26
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 25 May 2018
Crusaders v Hurricanes 07h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sunwolves 09h45 Melbourne
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sat, 26 May 2018
Chiefs v Waratahs 07h35 Hamilton
Bulls v Brumbies 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 14h00 London
Stormers v Lions 15h15 Newlands
Leinster v Scarlets 17h00 Dublin
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 11 6 1 4 31
Rebels 11 5 0 6 25
Reds 11 4 0 7 18
Brumbies 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 0 9 10
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 10 0 2 46
Hurricanes 11 10 0 1 45
Highlanders 11 7 0 4 32
Chiefs 11 7 0 4 32
Blues 12 3 0 9 17
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 7 0 6 36
Jaguares 12 7 0 5 29
Sharks 12 5 1 6 28
Bulls 12 5 0 7 24
Stormers 13 5 0 8 23