Sam Cane named for his first start of season
Star flanker Sam Cane makes a timely return to Super Rugby this weekend, confirmed for his first start of the season for the Chiefs clash with the Western Force in Perth.
With All Blacks captain Richie McCaw sidelined with a thumb injury, it's important for Cane to quickly get back into the groove that made him such an impressive alternative in the test team last season.
He's over his preseason knee injury and raring to go.
Super Rugby centurion Tanerau Latimer makes way for Cane, reflective of the Chiefs' squad strength.
Coach Dave Rennie has made one further change to his unbeaten pack with Mike Fitzgerald starting at lock alongside the impressive Brodie Retallick.
But the backline has been shuffled for a match that looms as a tricky equation after the Force flexed their muscles to outlast the Highlanders in Dunedin last weekend.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma reclaims the number 11 jersey with Tim Nanai-Williams joining the Tom Marshall in the midfield and Mils Muliaina makes a rare appearance on the other wing.
Kane Thompson, Augustine Pulu and Andrew Horrell are all added to the reserve bench alongside 18-year-old Anton Lienert-Brown who will become the eighth player to make his debut for the Chiefs this season if he gets on the paddock.
Rennie has no doubts about the challenge in front of his team with a potential banana skin in Perth on Saturday night before they move on to South Africa to play the Bulls and Cheetahs.
"We encounter a Western Force team that is in a confident mood and a team we have struggled to put away in the past so it is a challenge the boys are looking forward to," Rennie said.
Meanwhile, the Force have named Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman in their team.
McMeniman, who travelled to New Zealand last week but was not named in the 31-29 win over the Highlanders, makes his return to the field after recovering from a back injury sustained against the Brumbies in week three.
He makes his comeback on the blindside, with Angus Cottrell moving to No 8 in place of the suspended Ben McCalman.
"The Chiefs are the benchmark side in the competition" Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley said.
"The response of the team to the challenges of the last two weeks speaks volumes for the character of the group.
"We're learning all the time. Already this season our understanding of how to gain momentum, as well as our ability to remain composed when we don't have it has improved."
Force: Jayden Hayward, Luke Morahan, Junior Rasolea, Kyle Godwin, Nick Cummins, Sias Ebersohn, Alby Mathewson, Angus Cottrell, Matthew Hodgson (c), Hugh McMeniman, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Sam Wykes, Kieran Longbottom, Nathan Charles, Pekahou Cowan. Reserves: Heath Tessmann, Tetera Faulkner, Oli Hoskins, Adam Coleman, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Zack Holmes, Marcel Brache.
Chiefs: Gareth Anscombe, Mils Muliaina, Tim Nanai-Williams, Tom Marshall, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden (c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Pauliasi Manu, Josh Hohneck, Kane Thompson, Tanerau Latimer, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Anton Lienert-Brown.