Kiwi wrap (Thurs) brings you the top stories from New Zealand’s franchises.

Chiefs wary of ‘Waterboy’

The Chiefs will be keeping a close eye on Brumbies kingpin Stirling Mortlock when he returns to action this Friday.

Mortlock will play his first match of the season in Canberra after serving as the team’s technical adviser-cum-waterboy in the past few weeks. Mortlock has been recovering from a shoulder operation as a result of an injury at last year’s World Cup.

Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina believes Mortlock will need some time to get back to his best, but said his side cannot afford to underestimate the Wallabies centre.

“He’ll be caught short on match fitness but he’s been running pretty hard for six weeks. We need to stop them getting momentum with our tight five. We have to stop him getting the ball.

“We hope he’s underdone but he’s a class act and I’m sure he’s been working hard in the last couple of weeks. I have no doubts he’ll be right.”

Brumbies – 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Peter Playford, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Tyrone Smith, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 George Smith, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Nic Henderson. Reserves: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Salesi Maafu, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Joshua Holmes, 21 Matt Toomua, 22 Sanualio Afeaki.
Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Ben Castle, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Simms Davison. Reserves: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Ben May, 18 Jay Williams, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Jamie Nutbrown, 21 Dwayne Sweeney, 22 Viliame Waqaseduadua.

Canes change at centre for Sharks

The Hurricanes have made one changed for their match against the Sharks, with centre Tane Tu’ipulotu replacing Tamati Ellison.

The Canes have stuck with Piri Weepu at scrumhalf ahead of the in-form Alby Mathewson, but assistant coach Aussie McLean wants a better performance from the former All Black.

“We all know what his potential is, and hopefully he starts reaching his potential soon,” McLean told Radio Sport in New Zealand.

“He’s not playing as well as he can, but he’s not far off.”

Hurricanes – 15 Cory Jane, 14 Ma’a Nonu, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.

Subs: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Jeremy Thrush, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Willie Ripia, 22 Hosea Gear.