Chiefs' coach wield axe for team to play Bulls
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has reacted to the sloppiest performance under his command by making eight changes to the team to play the Bulls this weekend.
The Chiefs' unexpected 18-15 Super Rugby loss to the Western Force in Perth last weekend has put some heat on their South African trip, especially the Sunday morning (2am NZ time) clash at Loftus Versfeld where they have not won since 2001.
Prop Pauliasi Manu, hooker Rhys Marshall, lock Matt Symons, flanker Tanerau Latimer and No 8 Kane Thompson have been bought into the pack.
In the backs, Tim Nanai-Williams who experienced a minor hamstring tweak in the last game will move to the bench and is replaced by Andrew Horrell.
Eighteen year-old Anton Lienert-Brown makes his Super Rugby debut on the wing after some strong performances during the pre-season and Mils Muliaina moves back to fullback at the expense of Gareth Anscombe.
Bulls skipper Victor Matfield expects the Chiefs to be hungry after last week's loss and is predicting a try-fest as the defending champions look to use their counter-attacking game.
"If you talk about high-scoring games, you're right," Matfield told local media.
"When South African sides play, there is a lot of kicking, and teams almost don't want to give opportunities in their own half, while when you play New Zealand sides they want to score tries. They go out there and play.
"When they play, they give you opportunities to play as well. When you see two New Zealand sides play each other, it is high-scoring games as well.
"It is very different than when two South African sides play each other, and you have to plan for that, because when they get momentum, the chances are good they will score a try or two, so you need to score tries as well.
"It's nice for us, we want to go out in every game and we want to score tries."
The Chiefs remain top of the congested New Zealand conference but have dropped to fifth on the overall table, equal on points with the Bulls who have recovered from their slow start to build momentum, including a good win over the highly-rated Sharks.
Chiefs: Mils Muliaina, Anton Lienert-Brown, Andrew Horrell, Tom Marshall, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden (c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Kane Thompson, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Matt Symons, Ben Tameifuna, Rhys Marshall, Pauliasi Manu. Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Jamie Mackintosh, Ben Afeaki, Michael Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Gareth Anscombe, Tim Nanai-Williams.
Bulls: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (c), Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel vd Merwe, Grant Hattingh, Jono Ross, Piet van Zyl, Handre; Pollard, Ulrich Beyers, Morne Mellet.