Guildford cleared for Crusaders

RICHARD FERGUSON updates followers of the latest Super Rugby news from New Zealand.

Guildford cleared for Crusaders

Zac Guildford can play for the Crusaders again, after he was cleared by a New Zealand Rugby Union disciplinary hearing.

Guildford has had a rocky few months which alcohol induced incidents and was subsequently stood down by the Crusaders. He has since undergone treatment for his alcohol problem, while keeping up his rugby appearances for Hawke’s Bay.

Guildford should return to training this week and is expected to feature against the Kings next weekend.

Filipo completes comeback

Ross Filipo has gone full circle in completing his return to Super Rugby, following stints in France and England.

Formerly a lock, he makes his Chiefs debut at the back of the scrum, allowing Liam Messam to move to flank, where he will become the first Chiefs player to play 100 Super Rugby matches. Tanerau Latimer completes the loose trio while Sam Cane will make an impact off the bench.

Brodie Retallick takes a break and is replaced by Michael Fitzgerald while the expected front row changes see Hika Elliot start for Mahonri Schwalger and Toby Smith takes the loosehead jersey.

There is only one change to the backline with Andrew Horrell replacing Charlie Ngatai.

Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Ross Filipo, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith. Substitutes: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Patrick Osborne.

Baby Black gets his shot

Jason Emery, who played for the Baby Blacks at the IRB Champs last year, makes his debut for the Highlanders with a lot of promise surrounding him.

While there is a young feel to the midfield, the old hand of Colin Slade makes his return to the flyhalf jersey, somewhat offsetting the loss of the experienced Ma’a Nonu.

Speaking of experience, Chris King plays his 99th Super Rugby game in the front row while Jarrad Hoeata returns to the second row.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Joe Wheeler, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock. Substitutes: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Ma’afu Fia, 18 Jake Paringatai, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Buxton Popoalii