Rugby: Messam to play in 100th game

Liam Messam in action for the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images
Liam Messam in action for the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images

Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam is to become the first player for his franchise to reach 100 Super Rugby matches when he runs out against the Southern Kings on Saturday morning.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie named his side to face the Super 15 newcomers at Port Elizabeth, making several changes to his starting line up as the Chiefs look to bounce back from a 36-34 defeat by the Stormers last weekend.

Prop Toby Smith, lock Michael Fitzgerald, loose forward Tanerau Latimer and Andrew Horrell all make the starting line up. Meanwhile former All Black and multiple Super Rugby champion Ross Filipo makes his Chiefs debut at No 8.

Filipo has played No 8 for the Chiefs during pre-season and when he played in England.

"I'm really excited and want to get my first cap under my belt and join the boys," Filipo said.

Hooker Rhys Marshall comes onto the bench after flying over from New Zealand during the week after Mahonri Schwalger came home due to injury.

The Chiefs will celebrate Messam's milestone the following week at Waikato Stadium when they play the Highlanders on Friday 22 March.

He will become the second player to bring up 100 games in a Chiefs jersey, after Mils Muliaina, but the first to play all 100 matches at the franchise.

Messam started his representative career with the New Zealand U16 Secondary Schools and played for the New Zealand U19s and U21s. He made the New Zealand sevens team in 2002, was made captain in 2004 and named New Zealand Sevens player of that year. He won his first Commonwealth Games gold medal at Melbourne in 2006 and made it a double by winning another in Delhi in 2010.

Messam made his All Blacks debut in 2008. He has been a part of the Maori All Blacks since 2006 and has captained the side.

Chiefs side:
1. Toby Smith, 2. Hika Elliot, 3. Ben Afeaki, 4. Craig Clarke ( C ), 5. Michael Fitzgerald, 6. Liam Messam (C), 7. Tanerau Latimer, 8. Ross Filipo, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10. Aaron Cruden, 11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12. Andrew Horrell, 13. Tim Nanai-Williams, 14. Lelia Masaga, 15. Gareth Anscombe. Reserves: 16. Rhys Marshall, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. Brodie Retallick, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Augustine Pulu, 21. Charlie Ngatai, 22. Patrick Osborne


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