The Chiefs welcome back hooker Hika Elliot for their match against the Cheetahs in Hamilton on Saturday night.

Elliot was a late scratching for their victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin last weekend due to a calf injury and replaces Rhys Marshall.

In another three changes to the starting line-up, lock Michael Fitzgerald comes in for Craig Clarke, halfback Augustine Pulu is in for Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Lelia Masaga replaces wing Patrick Osborne.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is wary of a Cheetahs side which lost to the Sharks in their opening game, but there is no doubt he is taking the chance to rest co-captain Clarke and All Blacks halfback Kerr-Barlow.


Rennie said: "Out of all the South African sides the Cheetahs probably play a style that is closest to ours. They are innovative and can score tries from anywhere around the park and like all South African sides they are big and physical.

"We had a really free-flowing match against them in Bloemfontein last year, and we are expecting them to play a style of game similar to us, which is a free-flowing, high-paced, ruck and run game.''

The Chiefs team to play the Cheetahs at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday, kick-off 7.35pm, is: Gareth Anscombe, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Bundee Aki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu, Fritz Lee, Sam Cane, Liam Messam (c), Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu. Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Ben Tameifuna, Craig Clarke, Tanerau Latimer, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Charlie Ngatai, Patrick Osborne.