The Gallagher Chiefs return home this Saturday to take on current Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa competition leaders the Crusaders.
Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan has named a strong 23 to challenge the Crusaders for the 7.05pm clash at the FMG Stadium Waikato.
Chiefs go into the game on a three-game win streak against the reigning champions.
New Plymouth Old Boys loose forward Lachlan Boshier will return from injury for his first start of the 2021 Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa season in the number seven jersey.
He will shift younger brother Kaylum Boshier to the bench to cover in jersey twenty in the only change to the starting forward pack.
Chiefs co-captain Brad Weber will combine with All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie in the halves. Hautapu midfielder Alex Nankivell is promoted to start at twelve after Quinn Tupaea was side-lined with a knee injury.
Rangataua fullback Chase Tiatia will start in the fifteen jersey to complete an exciting backline.
In the reserves, Te Puke Sports hooker Nathan Harris will make his long-awaited return off the bench, alongside tighthead prop Sione Mafileo. In the backs, Hamilton Old Boys first five-eighth Bryn Gatland earns his place on the bench and will be joined by experienced New Plymouth Old Boys winger Sean Wainui to round out the twenty-three.
McMillan says the Chiefs need to deliver a clinical performance.
“The Crusaders have proven year after year they are a formidable side that must be respected,” he says.
“They do the simple things extremely well and can suffocate you through their set piece. But they have been challenged in areas of their game over recent weeks, and the competition has highlighted how small the margins are between winning and losing.
“We ourselves have been far from perfect but I feel like we have grown our game considerably over the last month and can challenge the defending champions head on. We were embarrassed with aspects of our previous game against them, that has not been forgotten and we are determined to perform much better in front of our passionate supporters.”
The fixture will be a celebration of club rugby. For the first time ever at a Chiefs home match, a premier club rugby rivalry clash will feature as the curtain raiser between Hamilton Old Boys and Hamilton Marist at 4.25pm.
Junior rugby clubs from all provinces of Chiefs Country will also take to the field in a junior march past.
Aidan Ross (40) (Te Puke Sports)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (41) (Fraser Tech)
Angus Ta’avao (40) (Eden Rugby Club)
Tupou Vaa’i (11) (New Plymouth Old Boys)
Naitoa Ah Kuoi (17) (Marist St Pats)
Mitchell Brown (50) (Inglewood)
Lachlan Boshier (56) (New Plymouth Old Boys)
Luke Jacobson (30) (Hautapu Rugby Club)
Brad Weber (90) (c) (Dunedin Rugby Club)
Damian McKenzie (89) (Varsity Hamilton)
Etene Nanai-Seturo (18) (Karaka Rugby Club)
Alex Nankivell (35) (Hautapu Rugby Club)
Anton Lienert-Brown (86) (Varsity Hamilton)
Jonah Lowe (3) (Clive Rugby Club)
Chase Tiatia (4) (Rangataua Rugby Club)
Nathan Harris (58) (Te Puke Sports)
Ollie Norris (8) (Hautapu Rugby Club)
Sione Mafileo (2) (North Shore Rugby Club)
Pita Gus Sowakula (30) (Spotswood United)
Kaylum Boshier (2) (New Plymouth Old Boys)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (42) (Rotoiti)
Bryn Gatland (2) (Hamilton Old Boys)
Sean Wainui (41) (New Plymouth Old Boys)