Chiefs ring changes for Southern Kings clash
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made five personnel changes and tinkered with the loose forward formation for Saturday morning's match against Super 15 rugby rookies the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
There is just the one change in the backline with Andrew Horrell replacing Charlie Ngatai at second five-eighths, but Rennie will field a revamped forward pack from that which started in the 36-34 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday.
The versatile Ross Filipo will make his Chiefs debut at No 8, with Liam Messam, playing his 100th match, moving to blindside flanker and Tanerau Latimer to openside. Sam Cane drops to the bench.
Michael Fitzgerald gets a start at lock ahead of Brodie Retallick while Hika Elliot starts in place of the injured Mahonri Schwalger and loosehead prop Toby Smith relegates Pauliasi Manu to the bench. Rhys Marshall, who was flown over to replace Schwalger in the squad, is on the bench.
Filipo, the former All Blacks lock/blindside flanker and Super 15 winner with the Crusaders, has featured at No 8 for the Chiefs in pre-season, as well as during his club career in England, so should have few problems at the back of the scrum at the snazzy Nelsen Mandela Bay Stadium.
"I’m really excited and want to get my first cap under my belt and join the boys," he said.
Messam will become the first Chief to play 100 Super Rugby matches, a milestone that will be celebrated with the home fans at Waikato Stadium next week when they host the Highlanders.
Chiefs:- Gareth Anscombe, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Andrew Horrell, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Ross Filipo, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Michael Fitzgerald, Craig Clarke (c), Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Toby Smith. Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Pauliasi Manu, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Charlie Ngatai, Patrick Osborne.