27 Apr 2023

Chiefs ready for 'banger' against Crusaders

2:39 pm on 27 April 2023
Left to right: Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie and Sam Cane.

The Chiefs big three - Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie and Sam Cane. Photo: Photosport

Competition leaders the Chiefs have named eight All Blacks in their squad to take on defending champions the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday night.

The Chiefs are unbeaten this season having toppled the Crusaders 31-10 in the season opener in Christchurch two months ago.

Four All Blacks are named in the forwards pack with Aidan Ross returning to the front row alongside Samisoni Taukei'aho and George Dyer.

Brodie Retallick and Tupou Vaa'i will lock the scrum, with All Blacks captain Sam Cane, Samipeni Finau and Luke Jacobson in the loose forwards.

Brad Weber will start at halfback this week with Damian McKenzie and Shaun Stevenson return to their roles at first-five and fullback respectively which sees Emoni Narawa and Etene Nanai-Seturo back on the wing.

"We could have pushed the envelope and re-introduced a couple of key players returning from injury, but ultimately decided to keep our powder dry, knowing the extra week of training won't do those returning players any harm," said coach Clayton McMillan.

While McMillan is looking forward to playing the Crusaders at home, he still remembers the outcome of last season's second meeting.

"They embarrassed us last year with their urgency and accuracy after we had beaten them in Christchurch a few weeks earlier, so we know what's coming our way.

"There are areas that feed their game, particularly in big matches, and our challenge is to starve them of those opportunities whilst earning the right to play the expansive game we want to play," said McMillan.

"It should be a banger."

Leicester Fainga'anuku scores a try at Forsyth Barr Stadium for the Crusaders

Leicester Fainga'anuku Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Crusaders will welcome back tighthead prop Oli Jager making his first appearance of the season from the bench, reinforcing the Crusaders' front row stocks after they lost All Blacks Fletcher Newell and George Bower for the year.

Wing Leicester Fainga'anuku is also back after missing the last two games with a calf strain.

The defending champions have lost two of their eight games so far but sit third on the Super Rugby ladder - the only other loss they have suffered this season was to the Fijian Drua in Lautoka.