Dwayne Sweeney gets nod at No 15 for Chiefs

FULLBACK: Dwayne Sweeney starting in the No 15 jersey is the only change to the Chiefs starting line-up for their Super Rugby playoff against the Brumbies tomorrow night.
FULLBACK: Dwayne Sweeney starting in the No 15 jersey is the only change to the Chiefs starting line-up for their Super Rugby playoff against the Brumbies tomorrow night.

The Chiefs have made just one change to their starting XV to take on the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night in their Super Rugby qualifier match and it is centred around their counter-attack.

Versatile utility back Dwayne Sweeney, who has been used mostly on the wing this season since rejoining the Chiefs as a replacement for the injured Mils Muliaina after returning from Japan, comes in at fullback in place of Tom Marshall and ahead of previous incumbent Gareth Anscombe.

That change is a straight swap with Marshall now replacing Sweeney on the reserves bench, meaning both Marshall and Anscombe are available to be called upon during the match.

''Dwayne's been really good for us and we see that the Brumbies will kick a bit so there will be counter-attack opportunities,'' Rennie said from Canberra last night.

''He will carry assertively for us, he's a good communicator and really he's had a strong influence on us since he arrived and with the two wingers going well it was really a matter of finding a spot for him somewhere.

''Everyone wants a start but we've picked the guys we think are best suited to do the job at the start of the game and guys like Tom and Gareth will come into it later on.''

Veteran Samoan hooker Mahonri Schwalger has recovered sufficiently from a dislocated shoulder to take his place in the run-on line-up.

Schwalger dislocated his shoulder making a tackle early in the first half of the Chiefs' final round-robin match against the Blues in Auckland last Friday night, but put the shoulder back in himself and played on until 15 minutes from the end of the match.

Rennie said Schwalger played a small part in training yesterday, would do a bit more in the captain's run today and, while not totally pain-free, should be OK for Saturday.

While there is only one change from the Chiefs team that started against the Blues last week, there are only seven survivors from 15 who started in the 41-23 loss to the Brumbies in their regular-season clash in Canberra back on Anzac Day.

Schwalger, tighthead prop Ben Tameifuna, lock Brodie Retallick, loose forward Liam Messam, who played No 8 in the April match, second-five Bundee Aki, centre Tim Nanai-Williams, who played on the right wing last time, and right winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma, who played on the left wing, are the only ones who started in the round-robin match.

The qualifier match between the fourth and fifth seeds kicks off at 9.40pm (NZ time) at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.

The winner will go on to the semifinals, along with the winner of the second qualifier match between third qualifiers the Sharks and sixth seeds the Highlanders in Durban on Sunday morning (NZ time).

The highest ranked winner will play the top qualifying Waratahs in Sydney and the lowest ranked winner will travel to Christchurch to play the second seeds, the Crusaders.

CHIEFS: Dwayne Sweeney, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Tim Nanai-Williams, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Squire, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Mike Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Nathan Harris, Pauliasi Manu, Nick Barrett, Matt Symons, Tevita Koloamatangi, Augustine Pulu, Gareth Anscombe, Tom Marshall.

Waikato Times