Rennie changes Chiefs for crunch
Rennie changes Chiefs for crunchSHARE
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made several changes to his side to play the Blues in a Super Rugby crunch match on Saturday.
Prop Toby Smith, flank Tanerau Latimer, No.8 Fritz Lee and inside centre Bundee Aki all earn a starting spot.
On the back of his solid return off the bench after a 10-month injury break, outside centre Richard Kahui will make his first start in the No.13 jersey.
Scrumhalf Augustine Pulu will start after Tawera Kerr-Barlow broke his jaw and Brendon Leonard will make his timely return on the bench, after recovering from a cheek injury.
Nick Crosswell, Sam Cane and Andrew Horrell all join the reserves.
Rennie described the game as one of the most anticipated Super Rugby matches this year.
"The Blues are a very good side," the Chiefs coach said.
"They obviously had impressive victories against other New Zealand franchises in their opening weeks and had a few arm wrestles that they could have won.
"We have a lot of respect for them and this will be a big occasion for both sides," Rennie added.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Patrick Osborne.
Date: Saturday, 30 March
Venue: Baypark Stadium, Mount Maunganui
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)