Super Rugby preview: Chiefs take on Crusaders at the Waikato Stadium
Last Updated: 17/04/14 10:55am
Defending champions Chiefs could move to the Super Rugby summit on Saturday when they host the Crusaders at the Waikato Stadium.
Victory over Melbourne Rebels in Round 9 following back-to-back draws saw the Chiefs move into third place, just three behind leaders Sharks, who take on the Cheetahs later in the day.
Todd Blackadder's Crusaders currently occupy mid-table having won four of their seven outings to date, their most recent victory being a 52-31 thumping of the Cheetahs.
Tries from Robbie Fruean and James Lowe saw the Chiefs to an 18-10 victory in the reverse fixture at the AMI Stadium, but the Crusaders will aim to draw heart from their 43-15 win over their compatriots last term as they seek revenge.
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made six changes to the side which beat Melbourne Rebels 22-16 last time out.
All Black lock Brodie Retallick has been cleared to play after suffering from concussion, while captain Liam Messam returns to the back row to join Tanerau Latimer and Liam Squire.
Pauliasi Manu gets the nod at prop, while Tawera Kerr-Barlow starts at scrum-half and winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma will take the field after two weeks out with a knee injury.
Flanker Latimer will make his 100th appearance for the Chiefs in front of a home crowd on Saturday and Rennie expects his teammates will be eager to put on a celebratory show.
"The Crusaders are a good side with good players that we respect," he said.
"It is a big occasion being Lats' 100th match for the Chiefs and the boys rate him highly so they are keen to front up for him."
Meanwhile, Crusaders head coach Blackadder has made three changes to the side which racked up a half century against the Cheetahs last week.
Up front, Owen Franks and Nepo Laulala have switched places again, meaning Franks starts at tighhead prop this week and Laulala takes a place on the bench.
Jordan Taufua makes his first start this season, having been promoted from the reserves to the blindside flank as George Whitelock is dropped, with Luke Whitelock providing cover from the bench.
Tom Taylor also moves into the starting XV playing at outside centre after Kieron Fonotia was ruled out by a hamstring injury in the only change in the backline.
Willi Heinz will start at scrum-half for a second successive game after he pushed former All Black Andy Ellis to the bench for last weekend's win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Chiefs: 15 Marshall, 14 Nanai-Williams, 13 Horrell, 12 Aki, 11 Tikoirotuma, 10 Anscombe, 9 Kerr-Barlow; 1 Manu, 2 Marshall, 3 Tameifuna, 4 Fitzgerald, 5 Retallick, 6 Messam (capt), 7 Latimer, 8 Squire.
Replacements: 16 Harris, 17 Mackintosh, 18 Hohneck, 19 Symons, 20 Cane, 21 Pulu, 22 Lienert-Brown, 23 Payne.
Crusaders: 15 Dagg, 14 McNicholl, 13 Taylor, 12 Crotty, 11 Nadolo, 10 Slade, 9 Heinz; 1 Crockett, Flynn, 3 Franks, 4 Bird, 5 S Whitelock, 6 Taufua, 7 Todd, 8 Read (capt).
Replacements: 16 Funnell, 17 Perry, 18 Laulala, 19 Tupou, 20 L Whitelock, 21 Ellis, 22 Bleyendaal, 23 A Whitelock.
Watch Chiefs v Crusaders live on Saturday from 8:35am on Sky Sports 2HD.