Rugby: Chiefs prop faces formidable front row

By Dylan Cleaver

Ben Tameifuna. Photo / Paul Taylor
Ben Tameifuna. Photo / Paul Taylor

The rugby education of Ben Tameifuna continues apace, with the 138kg prop set to face the all-international front-row of Corey Flynn and the brotherhood of Franks.

The Chiefs have named an unchanged run-on team for tomorrow's clash against the Crusaders, while the southerners have several changes - as good a window as any into the prevailing moods after last week's round of matches.

Todd Blackadder had every right to be grumpy about his team's uncharacteristic sloppiness in Dunedin and the inclusion of Owen Franks, Flynn, Luke Romano and Zac Guildford reflects that.

It means a number of positional changes, with Ben Franks moving to loosehead prop in place of Wyatt Crockett, Tom Donnelly shifting to the right side of the scrum, Israel Dagg moving from left wing to right wing and the out-of-form Sean Maitland moving to fullback.

Dave Rennie has made just two changes to the Chiefs' bench, where Mike Fitzgerald and Jackson Willison come in for Fritz Lee and Declan O'Donnell.

Nothing will provide as much fascination as the early scrum exchanges where Tameifuna and his Uncle Sona will take on the All Black brothers.

In some respects Tameifuna may have dodged an even trickier assignment, with Ben Franks a slightly more conventional scrummager than Crockett with his pointed angles and long levers.

Tameifuna made an impressive debut against the Blues and forwards coach Tom Coventry, who worked with him at Hawkes Bay, said he had some decent stock to lean on.

"Mo [Schwalger] and Hika are quality hookers so he's got a lot of experience under his left arm," he said.

Coventry is returning to the ground his office of five years once overlooked and is hoping McLean Park will feel more like a home game for the Chiefs, despite its official status.

Coventry, Tameifuna, Taumalolo, Kane Thompson, Elliot and Andrew Horrell all called McLean Park home last season.

The resurgence of the Chiefs' front eight was the most pleasing aspect of their bonus-point win last week, after looking underpowered in round one.

Coventry said his pack was derailed early against the Highlanders and a lack of experience meant they had no way of getting back on track.

The frustration bubbled away all week and the Blues saw the result of it. Things that seemed overwhelmingly difficult in week one - like a lineout drive - fell into place against the hapless, some would say hopeless, Blues.

Coventry was disappointed, then, that his forwards clocked off early against the Blues.

"We were a little bit disappointed we didn't kick on in the second half," he said. "We have to be better. We can't play for 40 minutes against the Crusaders."


Napier, 7.35pm tomorrow

Sean Maitland
Israel Dagg
Robbie Fruean
Adam Whitelock
Zac Guildford
Tyler Bleyendaal
Andy Ellis
Kieran Read (c)
Matt Todd
George Whitelock
Tom Donnelly
Luke Romano
Owen Franks
Corey Flynn
Ben Franks

Crusaders: Quentin MacDonald, Wyatt Crockett, Sam Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Tom Marshall.


Robbie Robinson
Lelia Masaga
Richard Kahui
S Bill Williams
T Nanai-Williams
Aaron Cruden
T Kerr-Barlow
Kane Thompson
Tanerau Latimer
Liam Messam
Brodie Retallick
Craig Clarke (c)
Ben Tameifuna
M Schwalger
Sona Taumalolo

Chiefs: Hika Elliot, Shane Cleaver, Mike Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Jackson Willison.

- NZ Herald

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