Chiefs named to play Hurricanes in Super Rugby semifinal

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DYNAMO: Damian McKenzie will lead the Chiefs' attack against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night. PHOTO/FILE 230716sp19BOP
DYNAMO: Damian McKenzie will lead the Chiefs' attack against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night. PHOTO/FILE 230716sp19BOP

Eighty minutes of opportunity and two highly motivated kiwi rivals makes for an enthralling sudden death semifinal contest this weekend at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

The Gallagher Chiefs have one last hurdle to conquer in order to secure a 2016 Investec Super Rugby finals berth, when they take on the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

With physical and psychological warfare to ensue on referee Angus Gardner's whistle, victory belongs to the side who can maintain composure and thrive on the pressure of finals footy.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has named a fiercely determined and experienced 23-man team to do just that, led by inspirational co-captains Sam Cane and Aaron Cruden.

There are three changes to the starting fifteen who outclassed the Stormers to win their quarterfinal 60-21 last Saturday local time in Cape Town, South Africa.

The formidable forward pack remains the same with Kane Hames, Nathan Harris and Atu Moli packing down together in the front row. Dominic Bird and Brodie Retallick continue their dominant locking partnership, with Taleni Seu, Tom Sanders and Sam Cane forming a hard-working loose forward trio.

In the backs, experienced All Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow will start at halfback this week, with support from Aaron Cruden at first five-eighth. Anton Lienert-Brown moves to second five-eighth, with the explosive Seta Tamanivalu returning from injury to start at centre.

The exciting trio of James Lowe, Sam McNicol and Damian McKenzie complete the backline. Of note in the reserves is the return of workhorse Michael Leitch who has been sidelined since May after dislocating his thumb against the Rebels.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Hurricanes is:

1. Kane Hames (8)
2. Nathan Harris (22)
3. Atu Moli (10)
4. Dominic Bird (10)
5. Brodie Retallick (70)
6. Taleni Seu (17)
7. Sam Cane (81) co-captain
8. Tom Sanders (14)
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (66)
10. Aaron Cruden (72) co-captain
11. James Lowe (36)
12. Anton Lienert-Brown (23)
13. Seta Tamanivalu (21)
14. Sam McNicol (11)
15. Damian McKenzie (32)

Reserves:

16. Hika Elliot (103)
17. Siegfried Fisi'ihoi (10)
18. Mitchell Graham (25)
19. Lachlan Boshier (7)
20. Michael Leitch (23)
21. Brad Weber (41)
22. Toni Pulu (12)
23. Shaun Stevenson (6)

( ) = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets

Not considered for selection: Nepo Laulala, Mitchell Karpik, Pauliasi Manu, Sam Henwood, Johan Bardoul, Glen Fisiiahi, Maama Vaipulu, Michael Allardice, James Tucker, Charlie Ngatai, Andrew Horrell, Stephen Donald, Augustine Pulu (All Blacks Sevens).

- Bay of Plenty Times

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