As they had already qualified 1st on the log come the last game of the regular season, the Chiefs used the opportunity to test their youngsters. Coach Dave Rennie has now reverted back to the tried and tested combinations.
– Andrew Horrell and Charlie Ngatai make up the centre paring.
– Asaeli Tikoirotuma starts on the wing and Gareth Anscombe at fullback.
– Rhys Marshall replaces Mahonri Schwalger as back up hooker on the bench.
– Prop Afeaki, Bundee Aki and back Robbie Robinson return via the bench.
“We had an enormous amount of injuries in the first half of the campaign. So to win our conference and finish top seed speaks volumes for the culture and depth of our squad. But at this stage of the season, seeding’s and previous results count for little. Success for us comes down to a willingness to scrap hard for each other for 80 minutes. The reward, a home final and a shot at another title,” said Rennie.
Chiefs vs Crusaders, Waikato, Saturday 19:35 NZT (08:35 CAT, 07:35)
1.Toby Smith , 2.Hika Elliot , 3.Ben Tameifuna , 4.Craig Clarke (c) , 5.Brodie Retallick , 6.Liam Messam , 7.Tanerau Latimer , 8.Matt Vant Leven , 9.Tawera Kerr-Barlow , 10.Aaron Cruden , 11.Asaeli Tikoirotuma , 12.Andrew Horrell , 13.Charlie Ngatai , 14.Lelia Masaga , 15.Gareth Anscombe
Replacements : 16.Rhys Marshall , 17.Ben Afeaki , 18.Michael Fitzgerald , 19.Sam Cane , 20.Augustine Pulu , 21.Bundee Aki , 22.Robbie Robinson