Chiefs backs shuffled for Crusaders clash
15 April, 2015, 5:30 pm
The Chiefs have kept their forward pack intact but made five changes to their backline to take on the Crusaders in a key Super Rugby New Zealand Conference derby in Christchurch on Friday night.
Rookie Taranaki loosehead prop Mitchell Graham has held his spot after a starting debut against the Blues two weeks ago, keeping the more established Pauliasi Manu on the bench.
In the backs Brad Weber returns at halfback in place of All Black Augustine Pulu, while the preferred midfield back combination of Sonny Bill Williams and Charlie Ngatai returns from injury.
Wider out Tim Nanai-Williams has recovered from the finger he broke against the Stormers in Cape Town on March 15 and will take his place on the right wing with Tom Marshall moving from there to fullback.
Marshall replaces 19-year-old Damian McKenzie in the No15 jersey with McKenzie dropping out of the match 23 for the first time in several weeks.
While Pulu and centre Andrew Horrell move to the bench after their starts against the Blues, lock Mike Fitzgerald joins them after having the Blues match completely off his first break from playing/training all season.
Apart from Graham in the front row, Michael Leitch at No8, skipper Liam Messam on the blindside flank and Weber at halfback this is the same starting XV that took the field against the Crusaders in Hamilton back on February 28.
Chiefs: Tom Marshall, Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai, Sonny Bill Williams, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden, Brad Weber, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane, Liam Messam (captain), Brodie Retallick, Matt Symons, Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Mitchell Graham. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Siate Tokolahi, Pauliasi Manu, Mike Fitzgerald, Liam Squire, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Bryce Heem.