Cape Town - Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland has named a rookie flyhalf in his first Super Rugby match-day squad for their opener against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.
The selected 23 will see three debutants in Waikato centre Quinn Tupaea and Bay of Plenty flyhalf Kaleb Trask, named in the starting XV and Wellington lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi hoping to debut off the bench.
The front-row will feature loosehead prop Aidan Ross pack down alongside All Blacks tighthead prop Nepo Laulala and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho. Tyler Ardron and Mitchell Brown will be the starting locking duo with debutant Ah Kuoi covering on the bench. In the back-row, Lachlan Boshier and Mitchell Karpik will be at No 6 and No 7 respectively, with Chiefs captain Sam Cane packing down at number eight.
In the backline, scrumhalf Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will combine with 21-year-old Trask at flyhalf. In the midfield Alex Nankivell will don the No 12 jersey, with Tupaea named at outside centre. A familiar back three will start with Solomon Alaimalo on the left wing and Sean Wainui on the right and crafty fullback Damian McKenzie to complete an exciting line-up.
Chiefs rookie hooker Bradley Slater will be joined by an experienced bench of props in All Blacks Atu Moli and Angus Ta’avao. Pita Gus Sowakula will provide back-row cover. Backline cover will feature a ton of experience in All Black Brad Weber, returning flyhalf Aaron Cruden and All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown.
Gatland said he was looking forward to seeing a competitive battle between the northern rivals.
“We have an exciting squad and we believe the team we have chosen reflects this. It is a great opportunity for our rookies to pull on the Chiefs jersey for the first time in what is expected to be a great competitive derby between two rival sides. We know the Blues will be a good sturdy challenge first up but one the boys and fans are excited about.”
15 Matt Duffie, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Tom Robinson, 4 Patrick Tuipoulotu (captain), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman
Substitutes: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Sam Cane (captain), 7 Mitchell Karpik, 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 1 Aidan Ross
Substitutes: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
- TeamTalk Media