Rugby: Settled Chiefs to tackle Blues

Prop Ben Tameifuna returns to the Chiefs' starting XV to settle a scrum that was shaky last week against the Lions. Photo / Getty
Prop Ben Tameifuna returns to the Chiefs' starting XV to settle a scrum that was shaky last week against the Lions. Photo / Getty

The Chiefs have responded to their biggest victory of the season with one of their most settled team selections for Friday night's clash with the Blues.

After chopping and changing throughout the campaign, a lack of new injuries and an improved performance in last week's win over the Lions has seen Dave Rennie opt for three personnel changes for the match in New Plymouth.

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There is a minor adjustment to the backline that helped produce six tries in the 38-8 victory over the Lions, with Charlie Ngatai failing to recover from the tight calf that forced him from the field at halftime.

Tim Nanai-Williams will move from fullback to centre in Ngatai's absence, while Bundee Aki comes into the team and second five-eighth and Tom Marshall switches to fullback.

The Chiefs have made two changes to their forward pack for the New Zealand conference showdown, with prop Ben Tameifuna coming into the side to settle a shaky scrum and Michael Fitzgerald replacing the injured Ross Filipo at lock.

Josh Hohneck move to the reserves where he is joined by Liam Squire, who has returned from concussion, and Anton Lienert-Brown.

The match will be the Chiefs' first at Yarrow Stadium since adopting the Taranaki province and, with the Blues coming off an impressive victory against the Reds, the local crowd can expect an intense encounter.

"It is exciting for us to play our first home game in Taranaki and I know the boys are keen to earn the respect of the locals by putting on a good performance,'' Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said.

"Traditionally our games against the Blues have been real ding-dong battles and, with not much between any team in the New Zealand Conference, it is a massive game for both sides.''

Chiefs team to play Blues in New Plymouth on Friday night:

Tom Marshall, Dwayne Sweeney, Tim Nanai-Williams, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Gareth Anscombe, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam (c), Sam Cane, Tanerau Latimer, Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Nathan Harris, Pauliasi Manu. Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Jamie Mackintosh, Josh Hohneck, Matt Symons, Liam Squire, Brad Weber, Andrew Horrell, Anton Lienert-Brown.

- APNZ

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