The Chiefs, so often the punching bag among the New Zealand Vodacom Super 14 teams, have put together a side capable of making the punches in this year’s competition.
Chiefs coach Ian Foster showed his hand when he named a near full strength starting XV for Thursday’s warm-up against the Hurricanes.
All Blacks Sitiveni Sivivatu and Byron Kelleher get their first starts, while Auckland recruits Mils Muliaina and Sam Tuitupou make up a potent back division. Grand Slam-winning All Black Sione Lauaki and All Blacks Steve Bates, Marty Holah and Tom Willis boost the pack. Another All Black, utility back Sosene Anesi, is on the bench.
CHIEFS: 15Mils Muliaina, 14 Anthony Tahana, 13 Mark Ranby, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Byron Kelleher, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Steve Bates, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Ben Castle, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Deacon Manu. Subs: Simms Davison, Aleki Lutui, Sam Biddles, Kristian Ormsby, Liam Messam, Nili Latu, Stephen Setephano, Jamie Nutbrown, Loki Crichton, Niva Ta’auso, Richard Kahui, Lelia Masaga, Sosene Anesi and Murray Williams.