In what is easily ‘the match of the round’, the Chiefs v Crusaders clash will have a lot to gain and lose as Super Rugby returns to Suva for the second year in a row.
Whenever the Chiefs take on the Crusaders, whether it be in Suva or anywhere else, it always makes for ‘must see’ rugby action. The Crusaders currently lead Super Rugby overall and are yet to lose a game; while the Chiefs have dropped just one match to remain second on the New Zealand conference.
With kick-off set for 7.35pm at ANZ Stadium, Suva on Friday night – both coaches today announced their squads.
Chiefs v Crusaders Squads Named For Super Showdown
Aside from the noticeable exclusion of Charlie Ngatai – the Chiefs named arguably their strongest possible lineup for Friday’s clash. After a late pull out against prior to the Reds, Aaron Cruden has been declared fit from his head knock and replaces Stephen Donald as the starting first five, continuing a game of ‘from bench to start then back to bench’ for the veteran Donald.
But no Ngatai is a biggie, and it signals a quick return to the sidelines after making his big comeback less than a fortnight ago. But it could go a bit further than that too.
According to Chiefs assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge; “Ngatai started developing a headache after training on Monday morning”. At this stage, it is unknown if the headache could be a sign that Ngatai’s concussion symptoms are returning.
“We are not sure why but are taking a cautionary approach. We don’t know why, and after checking footage at training, we still couldn’t find anything that suggested anything out of the ordinary.”
The Chiefs squad:
Damian McKenzie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Sam McNicol, Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane (co-c), Mitchell Brown, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames.
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Atu Moli, Taleni Seu, Liam Messam, Jonathan Taumateine, Stephen Donald, Shaun Stevenson.
The Crusaders is fairly stock-standard as well, with the big inclusion of Sam Whitelock who resumes the captaincy. Israel Dagg is still out with injury despite returning to club rugby last weekend. Bryn Hall is the preferred halfback – potentially due to his speed factor in what’s expected to be a fast game.
The Crusaders squad:
David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Pete Samu, Sam Whitelock (c), Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Quinten Strange, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele.
Chiefs v Crusaders, 7:35pm (NZT) ANZ Stadium, Suva.
“Main photo credit”