Chiefs make four changes for Cheetahs game
Halfback Augustine Pulu has been rewarded for his eye-catching cameo with promotion in one of four starting changes to the Chiefs team to take on the Cheetahs on Saturday in Hamilton.
In a surprise move, co-captain Craig Clarke drops to the bench to make way for Michael Fitzgerald.
All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot returns to the starting side for the first time this season after overcoming a calf complaint to assume the duties from talented rookie Rhys Marshall.
And out wide, livewire finisher Lelia Masaga takes over from Patrick Osborne on the right wing.
Pulu provided a defining spark when he came off the bench in the Chiefs' clinical first-up win over the Highlanders last week.
Dave Rennie was clearly impressed, dropping All Blacks halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow for the match with the South African entertainers.
With Richard Kahui, Robbie Robinson and Andrew Horrell still on the injured list, Gareth Anscombe retains his spot at fullback and, likewise, the fleet-footed Tim Nanai-Williams keeps the No. 13 jersey after both impressed in Dunedin.
"Out of all the South African sides the Cheetahs probably play a style that is closest to ours," Rennie said. "They are innovative and can score tries from anywhere around the park and like all South African sides they are big and physical.
"We had a really free flowing match against them in Bloemfontein last year, and we are expecting them to play a style of game similar to us, which is a free flowing, high paced, ruck and run game."
Chiefs team: Gareth Anscombe, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Bundee Aki, Asaeli, Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu, Fritz Lee, Sam Cane, Liam Messam (c), Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu
Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Ben Tameifuna, Craig Clarke, Tanerau Latimer,
Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Charlie Ngatai, Patrick Osborne