Mils Muliaina named to start for Chiefs
Former All Black Mils Muliaina will make his return for the Chiefs in their opening Super Rugby match against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday night.
The 33-year-old has been named to start at fullback for the two-time defending champions, having returned from a two-season stint with Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
Another returning from Japan is Kane Thompson, who has been named to start at No 8 after missing last year's campaign to play for the Canon Eagles.
The match will also be the first in Chiefs colours for prop Jamie Mackintosh and centre Robbie Fruean, who have joined from the Highlanders and Crusaders respectively.
With the Chiefs still struck down by injury, several young players have got the opportunity to show their wares, with Tasman's Tevita Kolomatangi to debut at openside flanker and Nathan Harris, James Lowe, Matt Symons, Liam Squire and Anton Lienert-Brown may get a debut off the bench.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said the team were keen to get the season underway.
"We have a lot of respect for the Crusaders and are excited by this match up. The boys have been training since November and we have been planning since August, so we are really looking forward to the competition starting properly."
Chiefs: Mils Muliaina, Tim Nanai-Williams, Robbie Fruean, Charlie Ngatai, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden (c), Augustine Pulu, Kane Thompson, Tevita Koloamatangi, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Rhys Marshall, Jamie Mackintosh. Res: Nathan Harris, Pauliasi Manu, Ben Afeaki, Matt Symons/Liam Squire, Nick Crosswell, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Andrew Horrell/Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe.