Masaga in doubt for Final
Masaga in doubt for FinalSHARE
The defending Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs, were on Thursday sweating on the fitness of star wing Lelia Masaga in the countdown to Saturday's Final against the Brumbies.
Masaga, one of the top attacking players in the competition this year, was troubled by an ankle injury, forcing the Chiefs to prepare an alternative combination with fullback Robbie Robinson on standby for the wing berth.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, who named an unchanged team from last week's semifinal win over the Crusaders, is confident Masaga will start, but is leaving the decision as late as possible.
The one-Test All Black is an integral part of the Hamilton-based franchise, who are aiming for a second successive Super Rugby crown and the chance to declare they have launched the competition's latest champion dynasty.
The Brumbies are looking to re-ignite their own heady days, which ended nine years ago when they won the second of their two titles.
Rennie, who will see his team run out at a sold-out Waikato Stadium, is excited that the Chiefs are hosting their second consecutive Final.
"There has been an enormous amount of hard work to get us into this position and we are excited to be playing in front of the people who mean the most to us," said Rennie.
Rennie knows that it will be a highly emotionally charged occasion with Craig Clarke, Lelia Masaga, Toby Smith, Richard Kahui and Brendon Leonard all heading off shore at the end of the season.
"They have all been a big part of the Chiefs family and we want to send these outstanding Chiefs men out on a high with back to back titles," said Rennie.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga/Robbie Robinson, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Bundee Aki, 22 Robbie Robinson/Patrick Osborne.
Date: Saturday, August 3
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT; 17.35 AEST)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro