Gallagher Chiefs prepared for Crusaders challenge
The Gallagher Chiefs head south to Christchurch to face the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium today in their first afternoon fixture of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Warren Gatland has named his side to challenge the Crusaders for the derby clash kicking off at 3.35pm.
Warren has made several changes to the Gallagher Chiefs forward pack with the welcomed return of Gallagher Chiefs Captain Sam Cane and lock Mitchell Brown. Taranaki hooker Bradley Slater is given the nod to start, with Samisoni Taukei’aho shifting to the bench as cover.
Brown returns from his neck injury to start, combining with Naitoa Ah Kuoi in jerseys number four and five respectively. Turnover master Lachlan Boshier shifts back to the blind side, with Cane returning on the openside in the final change to the Gallagher Chiefs forward pack.
Halfback Brad Weber will run out for his 80th game in the Gallagher Chiefs jersey and will be joined by a near unchanged backline. In the only change to the Gallagher Chiefs backline that faced the Blues, utility back Solomon Alaimalo will start on the right wing in jersey number fourteen.
In the reserves, Bay of Plenty’s Mitchell Karpik returns from his back strain to cover the loose forwards. Powerful midfielder Tumua Manu also returns to the fold in jersey number twenty-three.
Warren says the team needs to deliver an improved performance.
“We were disappointed with our performance against the Blues on Saturday and we know we are better than that. We are under no illusion that this weekend will be another challenging game, the Crusaders are a sharp team and can quickly punish teams for their mistakes. We need to be alert when we are defending and sharp on attack to allow us to capitalise on any opportunities presented to us.”
Warren welcomes the return of several key forwards.
“It is great to have the likes of Sam Cane, Mitchell Brown and Mitchell Karpik returning from injury. We know their experience and skill set will be invaluable,” says Warren.
• Aidan Ross (33)
• Bradley Slater (9)
• Nepo Laulala (35)
• Mitchell Brown (39)
• Naitoa Ah Kuoi (8)
• Lachlan Boshier (51)
• Sam Cane (116) ?
• Pita Gus Sowakula (22)
• Brad Weber (79)
• Aaron Cruden (96)
• Sean Wainui (32)
• Anton Lienert-Brown (76)
• Quinn Tupaea (6)
• Solomon Alaimalo (44)
• Damian McKenzie (78)
• Samisoni Taukei’aho (30)
• Reuben O?Neill (5)
• Ross Geldenhuys (7)
• Adam Thomson (2)
• Mitchell Karpik (25)
• Lisati Milo-Harris (3)
• Kaleb Trask (5)
• Tumua Manu (18)
() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets
*denotes Gallagher Chiefs debut
**denotes Investec Super Rugby debut
Unavailable for selection:
Angus Ta’avao (quad), Tyler Ardron (hamstring)
Season ending: Atu Moli (hips), Laghlan McWhannell (knee), Luke Jacobson (hand), Michael Allardice (shoulder), Nathan Harris (shoulder), Sam McNicol (ankle).
Game Day Information:
Fixture: Crusaders vs. Gallagher Chiefs, Sunday 28 June, 3.35pm
Location: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch