Two All Blacks will be assuming unfamiliar roles when the Chiefs tackle the Sunwolves tonight.

It's unlikely Chiefs coach Dave Rennie will eventually regret his decisions against the last-placed Sunwolves. In fact, considering the Chiefs have just come through the rigours of the three-game overseas tour, the coach said both moves were straightforward.

The first is Aaron Cruden's new role as reserve halfback, a position the Chiefs say he's capable of filling in an emergency - and tonight certainly qualifies. And the second is lock Brodie Retallick's a spot in the stands.

At halfback, at least, there was little alternative to Cruden. Not after Tawera Kerr-Barlow's concussion confirmed the Chiefs' plans to rest their first-choice No9 and not after regular back-up Finlay Christie copped a three-week suspension for stamping during last week's win over the Force.


The Chiefs have handed Jonathan Taumateine his first Super Rugby start and did recruit Bay of Plenty halfback Richard Judd into the wider squad but, with time working against them, Cruden eventually appealed as the obvious option as cover.

"There's so much in regard to structure to get your head around, and Aaron knows it all," Rennie told Radio Sport. "It would be quite seamless if he had to jump in there."

Still, Rennie would much prefer Taumateine to play the full 80 minutes, something Retallick has regularly managed this season. Having missed just 19 minutes across eight games, Retallick trails only Damian McKenzie in terms of workload for the Chiefs.

"We were thinking about trying to give him a week off while we were away," Rennie said of Retallick. "Brodie doesn't like resting. But it's in our best interest - he's played a lot of footy and you know the physicality he plays with. It's just a chance to freshen him up a bit."