29 Jan 2020

Cruden on the bench for Chiefs

3:39 pm on 29 January 2020

Former All Black Aaron Cruden has been named on the bench with debutant Kaleb Trask starting at first five for the Chiefs in their Super Rugby opener against the Blues at Eden Park on Friday night.

Chiefs player Aaron Cruden.

Aaron Cruden Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cruden announced his return to the club in November following two years in France.

New Chiefs coach Warren Gatland has named three debutants in his matchday 23.

Trask will control the backline which also includes Waikato centre Quinn Tupaea, while Wellington lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi is on the bench.

Damian McKenzie will play his first Super Rugby game since injurying his knee in April last year.

The front row will feature loose head prop Aidan Ross pack down alongside tighthead All Black prop Nepo Laulala and hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho. Tyler Ardron and Mitchell Brown will be the starting locking duo with debutant Ah Kuoi covering on the bench.

In the loose forwards Lachlan Boshier and Mitchell Karpik will be at six and seven respectively, with Chiefs Captain Sam Cane packing down the scrum at number eight.

In the backs, halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will combine with 21-year-old Trask at ten.

Damian McKenzie.

Damian McKenzie Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A familiar back three will start with Solomon Alaimalo on the left wing and Sean Wainui on the right and McKenzie to complete an exciting backline.

The bench also includes All Black props Atu Moli and Angus Ta'avao and halfback Brad Weber.

Meanwhile the Chiefs will be without former All Black hooker Nathan Harris for the entire season.

Harris has had recent shoulder surgery and will be out for six months.

He's to be fit for Bay of Plenty for their provincial season.

Harris has been replaced in the squad by Counties Manukau hooker Donald Maka.

Chiefs match day 23:

1. Aidan Ross (25)

2. Samisoni Taukei'aho (22)

3. Nepo Laulala (32)

4. Tyler Ardron (26)

5. Mitchell Brown (33)

6. Lachlan Boshier (44)

7. Mitchell Karpik (20)

8. Sam Cane (111) ©

9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (32)

10. Kaleb Trask**

11. Solomon Alaimalo (38)

12. Alex Nankivell (22)

13. Quinn Tupaea**

14. Sean Wainui (26)

15. Damian McKenzie (72)


16. Bradley Slater (2)

17. Atu Moli (38)

18. Angus Ta'avao (32)

19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi**

*denotes Chiefs debut

**denotes Super Rugby debut