The Chiefs hosts the Crusaders in their final 2020 home game at FMG Stadium Waikato in round eight of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. Chiefs Head Coach Warren Gatland has made a handful of changes to his twenty-three for the derby clash Saturday 09:05 SA time. The Chiefs is currently last on the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition log and is still looking for their first win of the competition. The Chiefs lost 17-21 against the Blues last weekend in a brilliant game in which they were unlucky not to win their first game of the season.
Aaron Cruden will run out in jersey number ten for his 100th Chiefs cap on Saturday. The 31-year-old flyhalf made his debut for the Gallagher Chiefs against the Highlanders in 2012, two years after his Investec Super Rugby and All Black debut in 2010.
Cruden was a key director of the Chiefs’ back-to-back Investec Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013. After notching up 89 caps for the Chiefs and co-captaining the team alongside current Chiefs captain Sam Cane, Cruden headed offshore to France in 2017 to play for Montpellier.
The talented playmaker and accurate kicker announced his return to the Gallagher Chiefs late last year. Since Cruden’s return to Investec Super Rugby, he has once again been a standout performer. His leadership, experience, and ability to seamlessly direct play have been key attributes in his many strong contributions in 2020.
The Chiefs powerful forward pack remains unchanged. In the backline, flyhalf Aaron Cruden will run out in jersey number ten for his 100th Gallagher Chiefs cap, shifting rookie Kaleb Trask to the bench. The only other changes to the elusive backline will see Shaun Stevenson return to the starting fifteen on the right-wing, with Sean Wainui shifting to the left-wing following Solomon Alaimalo’s shoulder injury last weekend against the Blues.
The re-enforcements off the bench, All Black prop Angus Ta’avao returns for his first Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa fixture and will be joined by young lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi who returns after being sidelined with a concussion. Waikato loose forward Simon Parker is set to make his mark in Investec Super Rugby named on the bench in jersey twenty for his debut.
Gatland said he is calling for his side to deliver a performance they can be proud of.
“Last weekend I was exceptionally proud of the efforts of the boys. This weekend we need to again strive for a full eighty-minute performance. The Crusaders are a class act and will be hurting from the weekend but as a team, we are ready for the challenge.”
“We have plenty to celebrate this weekend; Aaron’s impending milestone, a potential debut for Simon and we have both Angus and Naitoa returning from injury. We hope our fans come out to celebrate alongside us for our final 2020 home match.” finished Gatland.
Chiefs: 1. Reuben O’Neill, 2. Bradley Slater, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Tupou Vaa’i, 5. Mitchell Brown, 6. Lachlan Boshier, 7. Sam Cane (C), 8. Pita Gus Sowakula, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Aaron Cruden, 11. Sean Wainui, 12. Alex Nankivell, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 14. Shaun Stevenson, 15. Damian McKenzie. Replacements: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17. Ollie Norris, 18. Angus Ta’avao, 19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20. Simon Parker, 21. Lisati Milo-Harris, 22. Kaleb Trask, 23. Quinn Tupaea.