The Chiefs are en route to Cape Town without one of their key loose forwards.

Liam Messam has been ruled ineligible by Sanzaar for Sunday morning's Super Rugby quarter-final against the Stormers. He's been replaced by Tevita Koloamatangi.

The former All Black only played two regular season games for the franchise having not been part of their original 40 strong squad.

Messam returned to the Chiefs late in the season after being part of the New Zealand sevens squad this season in a bid to make the Olympics.

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He missed the cut to play in Rio and played his first Super Rugby game of the season last week against the Reds. Saturday night's defeat to the Highlanders was Messam's first start of the year.

He had needed to have played four matches to take part in the playoffs.

"Special dispensation hasn't been granted because SANZAAR are satisfied that the Chiefs can field a normal, full-strength side of 23 players for the following match," Sanzaar Media and Communications Manager Greg Thomas told Stuff.co.nz

"There are a suitable number of back-row players in the squad that will allow them to have a matchday 23."