Rugby: Rennie tweaks rampant backline

Anton Lienert-Brown will return at centre in one of two changes to the Chiefs. Photo / Getty
Anton Lienert-Brown will return at centre in one of two changes to the Chiefs. Photo / Getty

Their backline may have run in eight of the Chiefs' nine tries in their thumping of the Force but that hardly means there's no room for improvement.

Coach Dave Rennie has made two tweaks to his starting XV for the top-of-the-table clash against the Brumbies on Saturday night, with both changes affecting the backs.

Speedster Toni Pulu, tipped by Rennie as the fastest man in New Zealand rugby, will replace Sam McNicol and enjoy his first Super Rugby start on the right wing.

And after impressing in Argentina before sucuumbing to a minor knee injury that kept him out of the Force clash, Anton Lienert-Brown will start at centre in place of Seta Tamanivalu.

"It's good to get some consistency in selection after last week," Rennie said. "Anton Lienert-Brown comes back from injury to start after an outstanding performance against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Toni Pulu gets his first start after an exciting cameo off the bench against the Western Force last week."

The forward pack remains unchanged after neither Dominic Bird nor Brodie Retallick was cleared to return from long injury lay-offs, leaving Taleni Seu to resume his partnership alongside the ever-present Michael Allardice.

There are three alterations to the reserves, with Tamanivalu taking his place on the pine alongside Maama Vaipulu and Shaun Stevenson, who will return to the 23 for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury in round one against the Crusaders.

The Chiefs have fallen to the Brumbies in their last four clashes in Canberra and Rennie knows his side will face a fierce test if they wish to retain their lead at the top of the standings.

"It's always a big challenge going to Canberra and playing against the best Australian side," he said. "It'll be a test of us as individuals and a gauge as to where we're at as a group."

The Chiefs team to play the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night:

1. Mitchell Graham
2. Hika Elliot
3. Siate Tokolahi
4. Michael Allardice
5. Taleni Seu
6. Tom Sanders
7. Sam Cane (c)
8. Michael Leitch
9. Brad Weber
10. Aaron Cruden (c)
11. James Lowe
12. Charlie Ngatai
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
14. Toni Pulu
15. Damian McKenzie

Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Atu Moli, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, James Tucker, Maama Vaipulu, Kayne Hammington, Seta Tamanivalu, Shaun Stevenson

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