Chiefs change locks for Bulls in Rotorua

The Chiefs have named their Super Rugby team to play the Bulls on Friday in Rotorua with a potential return for former All Black Ross Filipo alongside Johan Bardoul.

Injuries to both starting second rowers in last week’s loss to the Hurricanes have forced coach Dave Rennie to make changes to his tight five.

In the front row Mitchell Graham starts at loosehead prop while Michael Fitzgerald has been bracketed with former Chief and All Black Ross Filipo, who was called into the side earlier this week as cover.

The confirmed starting lock will be joined in the second row by the newly re-signed Johan Bardoul.

The only other change to the run on side sees Augustine Pulu assume the starting role at halfback. Prop Pauliasi Manu and halfback Brad Weber move to the reserves while utility back Tim Nanai-Williams returns to the match day 23.

Chiefs Development lock Brian Alainu’uese gets the opportunity to make his Chiefs and Super Rugby debut off the bench. The 21 year-old has come through the Chiefs U18 programme and has been part of the Chiefs Development squad for the last two seasons.

Meanwhile a scan on winger James Lowe’s right shoulder has revealed he has an injury to the cartilage on the shoulder joint which will require a rehabilitation period of four-six weeks.

Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said, “We are rapt to be able to take a competition game to Rotorua, now it is up to the locals to show they want Super Rugby in their region by coming along on Friday night to support Liam and the team.”

Chiefs

1. Mitchell Graham , 2. Hika Elliot , 3. Ben Tameifuna , 4. Michael Fitzgerald/Ross Filipo , 5. Johan Bardoul , 6. Liam Messam (c) , 7. Sam Cane , 8. Michael Leitch , 9. Augustine Pulu , 10. Damian McKenzie , 11. Bryce Heem , 12. Anton Lienert-Brown , 13. Charlie Ngatai , 14. Hosea Gear , 15. Tom Marshall

Replacements : 16. Quentin MacDonald , 17. Siate Tokolahi , 18. Pauliasi Manu , 19. Brian Alainu’uese* , 20. Maama Vaipulu , 21. Brad Weber , 22. Andrew Horrell , 23. Tim Nanai-Williams

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