The Chiefs have made six changes to their starting XV for their first home game of the Super Rugby season with the Highlanders on Saturday night.
A combination of injuries, players returning and rotation are behind the changes to the team that beat the Crusaders 18-10 in last Friday's competition opener in Christchurch.
There is only one change to the starting backline for the game at Waikato Stadium with Tawera Kerr-Barlow returning from the foot injury that prevented him taking his place on the bench last week.
He replaces Augustine Pulu, who has been ruled out with the serious knee injury he suffered against the Crusaders. Replacement halfback Brad Weber has kept his place on the bench.
Five of the starting forward pack change, with co-captain Liam Messam moving from blindside flanker to No 8 to accommodate Nick Crosswell replacing Kane Thompson, who has been ruled out with a groin injury.
Tanerau Latimer has been passed fit to start on the openside after elbow/hand and pectoral injuries and will replace last week's debutant Tevita Koloamatangi, who moves to the bench.
Lock Brodie Retallick and tighthead prop Ben Afeaki have both been ruled out after their nasty head clash in Christchurch. Retallick will be replaced by newcomer Matt Symons while Afeaki's place on the bench will be taken by Josh Hohneck.
Pauliasi Manu comes in to start at loosehead prop with Jamie Mackintosh moving to the bench while Mahonri Schwalger returns after eye surgery to replace Rhys Marshall as the starting hooker.
Liam Squire is the other newcomer on the bench and is poised to earn his first Chiefs cap in the back row.
Chiefs: Mils Muliaina, Tim Nanai-Williams, Robbie Fruean, Charlie Ngatai, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden (c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Nick Crosswell, Matt Symons, Mike Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Pauliasi Manu. Res: Rhys Marshall, Jamie Mackintosh, Josh Hohneck, Tevita Koloamatangi, Liam Squire, Brad Weber, Andrew Horrell, James Lowe.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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