Chiefs have received a major boost ahead of the third clash of the Super Rugby Aotearoa with trio making a return ahead of the Crusaders clash scheduled for Orangetheory Stadium on Sunday at 6:35 AM EAT.
All Blacks skipper Sam Cane, Mitchell Brown and Mitchell Karpik return from injury with Cane and Brown heading to the starting squad. Cane will start on the open flank while Lachlan Boshier will take care of the blind flank. Pita Gus Sowakula will start as number eight.
Brown and Naitoa Ah Kuoi are in the second row. Nepo Laulala, Bradley Slater and Aidan Ross will lead the forwards at the front row.
Brad Weber and Aaron Cruden are the halfbacks while Anton Lienert-Brown and Quinn Tupaea will run in the midfield. Damian McKenzie has been trusted at Fullback for the third time while Solomon Alaimalo and Sean Wainui are the wingers.
Warren Gatland who is desperate for a win says: “We were disappointed with our performance against the Blues last Saturday and we know we are better than that.”
“We are under no illusion that this weekend will be another challenging game, the Crusaders are a sharp team and can quickly punish teams for their mistakes. We need to be alert when we are defending and sharp on attack to allow us to capitalise on any opportunities presented to us.”
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Tumua Manu.