One All Black will be putting up his feet this weekend while another will have his head down as he attempts to master a new position.

The Chiefs' penultimate match against the 15th-placed Reds always appeared an opportunity to rest and refresh ahead of the playoffs, with coach Dave Rennie giving Brodie Retallick a week on the sidelines to rest his weary body.

And, as part of the reshuffle to account for the lock's absence, All Black teammate Sam Cane is set to start at No 8 for the first time in Super Rugby.

Rennie stressed the alterations were not a sign of his side taking lightly the Reds' threat, rather a plan focused on the bigger picture. But with the trip to Brisbane coming between two all-Kiwi clashes, the timing of the selection switches was logical.


"He's pretty buggered," Rennie said of Retallick. "He's had a big workload with the All Blacks, and when he plays for us he generally plays 80 minutes, and you know what sort of performance he gives you.

"We just felt it was a good chance to try and freshen him up this week. Hopefully we still get it right and then he'll be a little bit fresher leading into the last round and the playoffs."

Indeed, Retallick played the majority of the Welsh series, racking up 211 minutes across the three tests. And although Cane also started each match, totalling 197 minutes in the series, Rennie felt a couple of days off training earlier in the week would suffice for the co-captain.

The coach also believed Cane was ready to add another string to his bow. With Tom Sanders, who started at No 8 last week, moving to No 6 as Taleni Seu shifts to lock, Cane has been entrusted to fill a hole at the back of the scrum.

Super Rugby rookie Lachlan Boshier rounds out the loose forwards while the returning Liam Messam will begin his Chiefs comeback from the bench.

"We've talked to Sam about playing 8 a lot, and he's finished a couple of games at 8 for us," Rennie said. "We've been really happy with Lachie, and having two sevens on the field from a post-tackle point of view, we think will be really good for us against a Reds side who are very strong in that area."

In the backline, All Black halves pairing Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Cruden are set to return to the starting side after being eased back via the bench in last week's crucial win over the Crusaders.

And Anton Lienert-Brown will again play alongside Seta Tamanivalu in the midfield, with Rennie conceding that concussion had likely curtailed Charlie Ngatai's outstanding season.

"Realistically, it's going to take him two or three weeks to get up to speed from a conditioning point of view, and even if he stops having symptoms, we'd probably want to give it another week before we amp things up.

"We're not saying he's definitely gone for the season but the chances are pretty slim."​