Hamilton - All Black flyhalf Aaron Cruden will start for the Chiefs when they tackle the Brumbies in a Super Rugby clash in New Plymouth on Friday.
The Chiefs welcome one former and three current All Blacks back to the fold to take on a Brumbies side riding high from their impressive 47-3 win over the Reds.
Liam Messam will captain the side from blindside flank, Cruden starts at No 10 with Super Rugby centurion Hosea Gear making his Chiefs debut on the left wing while World Rugby Player of the Year Brodie Retallick will start on the bench.
Other changes to the starting XV see Prop Jamie Mackintosh line up alongside Hika Elliot and Siate Tokolahi in the front row, while in the backs, Tom Marshall and Tim Nanai-Williams are unavailable due to injury, so with Gear starting on the left wing, James Lowe moves to fullback with Bryce Heem retained on the right wing.
Among the substitutes, a Chiefs debut is in the offing for hooker Quentin MacDonald, who returns to Super Rugby after a season away, and ITM Cup Player of the Year Seta Tamanivalu is set to make his Chiefs and Super Rugby debut in front of his home crowd. They are joined on the bench by props Pauliasi Manu, Ben Tameifuna and last week’s stand out performer Damian McKenzie.
“There is a huge amount of competition for places and we are excited to have our returning All Blacks back in the mix,” coach Dave Rennie told the Chiefs’ official website.
“Between our team and the Brumbies there are plenty of world class players on display and with the styles both teams like to play it will be a real positive game.”
Friday's clash at Yarrow Stadium kicks off at 08:35 (SA time).
15 James Lowe, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Seta Tamanivalu