Vodacom Super Rugby
Chiefs recall Umaga
uper 15Sydney - Ian Foster continues to search for a winning formula with the Chiefs coach making five more personnel changes to his starting lineup for the Saturday night visit of the buoyant Rebels.
Foster has once again heavily tweaked his squad as the Chiefs look to open their Vodacom Super Rugby account after back to back losses to start the new season.
And being at Waikato Stadium for the first time this season offers pretty cold comfort for the Chiefs after their horror run last year when they had just a win and a draw from seven matches on home soil.
After following up the opening-round defeat in Canberra with a loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin last weekend, Foster has gone back to a lineup closer to that which started against the Brumbies.
That sees veteran midfielder Tana Umaga return at second five-eighths and Dwayne Sweeney shifting out a spot to centre as Jackson Willison drops out of the 22 altogether.
The halves combination also changes for the third straight week, with the All Blacks pairing of Stephen Donald and Brendon Leonard restored to starting duty, Mike Delany dropping to the bench and youngster Tawera Kerr-Barlow dropping out altogether.
Up front the back row remains intact, despite being out played by the Highlanders in Dunedin, Craig Clarke returns from injury to replace Hayden Triggs at lock, while Ben May comes in for the crocked Toby Smith at loosehead prop.
There is also a first squad appearance for the season of halfback Taniela Moa and hooker Hika Elliot who will both look to make an impact off the bench.
Foster acknowledges his team is in a tight situation, but says he's confident they're building towards a more complete performance.
"We have had two tough weeks on the road, made tougher with not getting the results we wanted. However, we are making good progress and we are very determined to play well at our first home game this year.
"I've got no doubt we're heading in the right direction," said Foster.
"I thought we had a dominant scrum [against the Highlanders], and our set piece work in the first half was excellent. The whole ball flow and error rate was at a good level in the first half. We put a first half together against the Highlanders and a second half against the Brumbies, so it's pretty easy to figure out the next step."
Donald will make his 75th Chiefs appearance, while Tanerau Latimer and Lelia Masaga will play their 50th games for the franchise.
The Rebels will head into the first away game of their debut season with a fair degree of confidence after pipping the Brumbies at home last Friday night.
15. Mils Muliaina (capt), 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Dwayne Sweeney, 12. Tana Umaga, 11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10. Stephen Donald, 9. Brendon Leonard; 8. Liam Messam, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Scott Waldrom, 5. Isaac Ross, 4. Craig Clarke, 3. Nathan White, 2. Aled de Malmanche, 1. Ben May
Substitutes: 16. Sona Taumalolo, 17. Hila Elliot, 18. Romana Graham, 19. Steven Setephano, 20. Taniela Moa, 21. Mike Delany, 22. Tim Nanai-Williams Rebels
15. Mark Gerrard, 14. Lachlan Mitchell, 13. Stirling
Mortlock (captain), 12. Julian Huxley, 11. Cooper Vuna, 10. Danny
Cipriani, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Gareth Delve, 7. Michael Lipman, 6. Jarrod
Saffy, 5. Kevin O'Neill, 4. Adam Byrnes, 3. Greg Somerville, 2. Ged
Robinson, 1. Nic Henderson
Substitutes: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17.
Laurie Weeks, 18. Alister Campbell, 19. Tom Chamberlain, 20. Richard
Kingi, 21. Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22. Peter Betham