Rugby: Beaver back in Chiefs colours

Stephen Donald last played for the Chiefs five seasons ago. Photo / Getty
Stephen Donald last played for the Chiefs five seasons ago. Photo / Getty

The Chiefs' injury situation has again darkened but, on the bright side, the setbacks have allowed for the return of the Beaver.

Stephen Donald is set to make his first appearance for the Chiefs since 2011 after being named on the bench for his side's clash with the Force in Hamilton on Saturday night.

The veteran first five has earned a call up for the encounter at FMG Stadium after the New Zealand conference leaders' casualty ward swelled to an even dozen.

After Johan Bardoul last week suffered a broken thumb and Pauliasi Manu was yesterday ruled out for the season with a ruptures Achilles, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Anton Lienert Brown were today both added to the injury list.

Replacing that quartet accounted for the only changes to Dave Rennie's run-on XV after last weekend's narrow win over the Jaguares in Argentina.

In the forwards, Siate Tokolahi is promoted from the bench to replace Manu and start alongside Mitchell Graham and Hika Elliot in the front row.

And with Bardoul sidelined after sustaining injury in Argentina, loose forward Taleni Seu gets an opportunity to impress at lock.

The other alterations arrive in the backs, where Brad Weber slots into the team in place of Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who suffered a head knock against the Jaguares, and Seta Tamanivalu replaces Anton Lienert-Brown, who is unavailable due to a minor knee injury.

But while the starting XV still retains a settled appearance, there are wholesale changes in the reserves, with only hooker Rhys Marshall retaining his place on the pine.

Four players are set to make their Super Rugby debuts, two more have only one Chiefs cap to their name, and then there's Donald. The 32-year-old, who has played 85 games and scored 858 points for the franchise, will back up Aaron Cruden in a bid to make what would be a popular return.

Elsewhere, Nippy Manawatu halfback Kayne Hammington has capped a whirlwind week, taking his place on the bench days after being called into the squad, while Counties Manukau wing Toni Pulu has battled his way back from an ankle injury to position himself for a debut.

Bay of Plenty prop Siegfried Fisi'ihoi replaces Manu in the squad, while debutant Sam Henwood rounds out the forward reserves.

Chiefs team to play the Force at FMG Stadium on Saturday night:

Damian McKenzie, Sam McNicol, Seta Tamanivalu, Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (c), Brad Weber, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane (c), Tom Sanders, Taleni Seu, Michael Allardice, Siate Tokolahi, Hika Elliot, Mitchell Graham.

Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Atu Moli, Siegfried Fisiihoi, James Tucker, Sam Henwood, Kayne Hammington, Stephen Donald, Toni Pulu.

- NZ Herald

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