18 Jun 2015

Seven changes for Chiefs

6:47 pm on 18 June 2015

The Chiefs have made seven starting changes for Saturday's Super Rugby preliminary final against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Centre Charlie Ngatai's been ruled out due to concussion, so cousins Tim Nanai-Williams and Sonny Bill Williams will pair up in the midfield, while Damian McKenzie starts at fullback with Tom Marshall ruled out with a knee injury.

Andrew Horrell gets the nod at first five-eighth over Marty McKenzie, who moves onto the reserves bench, in a switch assistant Chiefs coach Tom Coventry says is mainly for Horrell's experience - though they're keen to share the kicking load across the whole team.

The Chiefs utility back Andrew Horrell

Chiefs utility back Andrew Horrell is preferred at No.10 for this weekend's knockout game Photo: Photosport

"So, (it) doesn't all fall on Andrew, but we're relying on his direction, his understanding," says Coventry. "He's got a great rugby nous, he's got a great tactical brain. Sure, it's not his specialist position but we're relying heavily on that experience that he brings to get things going forward for us - whether it's with the hand or with the foot."

Lock Michael Fitzgerald moves onto the blindside in place of Michael Leitch, while captain Liam Messam takes over the No.8 jersey.

The Chiefs' Japanese international flanker Michael Leitch

Michael Leitch will have to make his impact off the bench this weekend Photo: Photosport

Newly re-signed hooker Hika Elliot, who will play his 100th Super Rugby game, and All Blacks flanker Sam Cane return after being rested last week.

Chiefs and All Blacks flanker Sam Cane.

Sam Cane is back for the Chiefs Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Halfback Kayne Hammington should make his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs off the bench. The 24 year-old joins Marty McKenzie, Leitch and Seta Tamanivalu in the reserves.


1. Pauliasi Manu

2. Hika Elliot

3. Ben Tameifuna

4. Matt Symons

5. Brodie Retallick.

6. Michael Fitzgerald

7. Sam Cane

8. Liam Messam (captain)

9. Brad Weber

10. Andrew Horrell

11. James Lowe

12. Sonny Bill Williams

13. Tim Nanai-Williams

14. Bryce Heem

15. Damian McKenzie

16. Quentin MacDonald

17. Siate Tokolahi

18. Jamie Mackintosh

19. Mitchell Crosswell

20. Michael Leitch

21. Kane Hammington*

22. Marty McKenzie

23. Seta Tamanivalu

*Super Rugby and Chiefs debut