RICHARD FERGUSON updates keo.co.za followers of the latest Super Rugby news from New Zealand.
Nanai-Williams back at wing
The Chiefs have made three changes to their team following their bye weekend, welcoming back Tim Nanai-Williams to the starting line-up. Nanai-Williams has spent the season at outside centre, but with the return of Richard Kahui to fitness, Nanai-Williams will shift back to the wing.
The Chiefs take on the Reds without their regular captain Craig Clarke, who is set to return to action later in the month, with Liam Messam continuing in the captaincy capacity.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Tim Nanai Williams, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 August Pulu, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith. Substitutes: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Michael Kainga, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Patrick Osborne.
Ranger covers wing for the weekend
Rene Ranger has been shifted to the wing for the Blues’ match against the Hurricanes this weekend. Ranger takes over from George Moala, who is suspended for this week, but will return to midfield next week to continue his good work closer to the ball.
The shuffle in the backline sees a return to the starting line-up for Francis Saili, joining Jackson Willison in midfield.
The only other change to the Blues is Tom McCartney returning to the front row, dropping Tim Perry from the match 22 altogether. Keven Mealamu will spend another week on the bench, making his impact felt later in the match.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney. Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O’Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Albert Nikoro.
Hurricanes call on Pisi
Tusi Pisi, the Samoan flyhalf, will start his first match of the season as the Hurricanes shuffle their backline ahead of the clash against the Blues this weekend.
Pisi’s inclusion at flyhalf sees Beauden Barrett shift to fullback, dropping Andre Taylor to the bench.
Amongst the forwards, Ben Franks might start after missing out last week, but has been bracketed in with Reggie Goodes in case he isn’t fully fit.
Hurricanes: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 TJ Perenara , 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Ben May, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Ben Franks / Reggie Goodes. Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles / Ash Dixon, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Reynold Lee-Lo, 22 Andre Taylor