Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Rennie calls in the heavy artillery

Chiefs tighthead prop Ben Tameifuna. Photo / Christine Cornege
Chiefs tighthead prop Ben Tameifuna. Photo / Christine Cornege

By selecting Ben Tameifuna at prop, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is hoping to spike the Crusaders' scrum with the biggest piece of artillery he has.

The 140kg Tameifuna made his considerable presence felt when replacing recent All Blacks debutant Ben Afeaki at tighthead in the second half of the Chiefs' victory over the Hurricanes last weekend.

Tameifuna's impact was also obvious around the field when he scored one of the Chiefs' four tries charging through a breakdown.

Now the 21-year-old gets another chance against one of the best scrums in the competition.

The Crusaders boast eight current or former All Blacks in their pack, and 12 in their starting line-up.

"The key thing is they've got a really good scrum and their set piece is a real weapon for them both with and without the ball," Rennie said.

The Chiefs coach dodged the question of whether Tameifuna's selection was an attempt to put pressure on Wyatt Crockett, the Crusaders loosehead.

There is no doubt that Crockett, now probably the best loosehead in the country, will find it more difficult to manoeuvre Tameifuna than he would Afeaki.

Meanwhile, Rennie said he would not be interested in signing contentious Highlander Ma'a Nonu for the Chiefs if Sonny Bill Williams doesn't return next year.

Chiefs v Crusaders
AMI Stadium, tomorrow, 7.35pm

Chiefs: Robbie Robinson, Patrick Osborne, Charlie Ngatai, Bundee Aki, A. Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, T. Kerr-Barlow, Matt Vant Leven, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (C), Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu
Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Ben Afeaki, Michael Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Tim Nanai-Williams

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Tom Marshall, Ryan Crotty, Tom Taylor, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Tom Donnelly, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tyler Bleyendaal, Telusa Veainu.


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