Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan has named his team to face the Western Force in the opening round of the Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition on Saturday 15 May (AUST), Sunday 16 May (NZT). The game will kick off at 8.05pm (AUST)/12.05am (NZT) at Perth’s HBF Park.
Bay of Plenty hooker Nathan Harris will join propping duo of Aidan Ross and Angus Ta’avao with Waikato hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho shifting to the bench. Locking duo of Josh Lord and Tupou Vaa’i will complete the tight five, with Zane Kapeli covering on the bench. An unchanged loose forward combination will round out the forward pack with Gallagher Chiefs veteran Liam Messam covering in the reserves.
In the backs, Gallagher Chiefs Co-Captain Brad Weber will combine with All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie in the halves, shifting Bryn Gatland to the bench as cover in jersey twenty-two. The Gallagher Chiefs midfield combination of Alex Nankivell and All Black Anton Lienert-Brown remains unchanged. Jonah Lowe shifts to the left wing with Shaun Stevenson starting on the right wing. Fullback Chase Tiatia moves into the starting fifteen to complete a formidable starting line-up.
In the reserves, Taukei’aho will be joined by loosehead prop Ollie Norris and tighthead prop Joe Apikotoa as front row cover. Rookie halfback Xavier Roe gets another opportunity to impress coaches alongside utility back Bailyn Sullivan who was imposing against the Blues.
McMillan said the team are looking forward to kicking the Trans-Tasman competition off.
“We are excited for the opportunity to get back on the road again and play our counterparts over in Australia. We are disappointed we did not get the job done last weekend in Christchurch against the Crusaders. However, we are fortunate that this competition allows us to jump right back into work. It will test our environment and challenge us as a team to bounce back and deliver on the field once again this weekend in Perth. We trust that the team we have selected will do this.”
Aidan Ross (43) Nathan Harris (61) Angus Ta’avao (43) Josh Lord (2) Tupou Vaa’i (14) Pita Gus Sowakula (34) Lachlan Boshier (59) Luke Jacobson (32) Brad Weber (93) Damian McKenzie (92) Jonah Lowe (6) Alex Nankivell (38) Anton Lienert-Brown (89) Shaun Stevenson (58) Chase Tiatia (6)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (44) Ollie Norris (12) Joe Apikotoa (4) Zane Kapeli (2) Liam Messam (180) Xavier Roe (2) Bryn Gatland (6) Bailyn Sullivan (5)
() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets
*denotes Gallagher Chiefs debut
**denotes Sky Super Rugby debut
Unavailable for selection:
Atu Moli (hips), Kaylum Boshier (shoulder), Laghlan McWhannell (knee), Mitchell Brown (ankle), Mitchell Karpik (knee), Reuben O’Neill (concussion), Sam Cane (shoulder/pectoral), Samipeni Finau (shoulder), Sean Wainui (hamstring), Simon Parker (foot), Quinn Tupaea (knee).