Chiefs make nine changes for Sharks
April 26, 2013
Lelia Masaga among the players to retain a starting spot © Getty Images
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has overhauled the Super Rugby champions' out-of-form team to face the Sharks, making nine starting changes from the side beaten by New South Wales Waratahs in round 10.
Six changes for the match in Hamilton on Saturday come in the forward pack, with the front row totally replaced and co-captain Craig Clarke returning at lock after missing the past four games with concussion symptoms. No. 8 Fritz Lee has been replaced by Nick Crosswell after breaking a finger in Sydney, while openside flanker Sam Can is dropped to the bench to be replaced by Tanerau Latimer. Tight-head Prop Michael Kainga makes his first start of the season in place of the benched Ben Tameifuna, while Toby Smith is restored at loose-head in place of Pauliasi Manu. Hooker, Hika Elliot is dropped from the 22, with Samoa veteran Mahonri Schwalger making his second appearance of the season since damaging knee cartilage against the Stormers in round three.
The three backline changes see fullback Gareth Anscombe, centre Tim Nanai-Williams and scrum-half Augustine Pulu returning for Andrew Horrell, Charlie Ngatai and Brendon Leonard respectively. Richard Kahui departed the Waratahs game at half-time with a hamstring injury, but he has recovered to retain his second five-eighth starting spot.
Narrow losses to the Reds and Waratahs have seen the Chiefs drop to second in the New Zealand conference as they prepare for the match which is a repeat of last year's final.
Chiefs: Gareth Anscombe; Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Richard Kahui, Asaeli Tikoirotuma; Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu; Nick Crosswell, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam (co-captain); Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (co-captain); Michael Kainga, Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Ben Tameifuna, Michael Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Brendon Leonard, Bundee Aki, Charlie Ngatai.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham