Hamilton - Chiefs rugby captain Craig
Clarke has passed a late fitness test on a knee injury, enabling coach
Dave Rennie to name an unchanged lineup for Saturday's Super Rugby
final against the Durban-based Sharks.
Clarke was injured as the
Chiefs beat the Crusaders 20-17 in last weekend's semifinal
to reach the final for only the second time. The giant lock convinced
the Chiefs' medical staff on Thursday that he was fit to start in the
Rennie retained the forward pack that stared down
the seven-time champion Crusaders and kept a backline which includes
Sonny Bill Williams, who will play his last Super Rugby match before
heading to Japan.
Prop Sona Taumalolo has been retained and, after
scoring his ninth try of the season in last weekend's semifinal to
become the leading New Zealand tryscorer in the tournament.
tighthead prop Ben Tameifuna has also been retained after a strong match
against the Crusaders, while Samoa World Cup captain Mahonri Schwalger
remains at hooker.
Tanerau Latimer has been confirmed on the open-side flank, keeping his young All Blacks understudy Sam Cane among the reserves.
current or former All Blacks have been named on the reserves bench:
hooker Hika Elliot, Cane, scrumhalf Brendon Leonard and winger Lelia
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden will oppose his young Springboks
counterpart Patrick Lambie after outplaying his All Blacks' teammate Dan
Carter last weekend.
Lambie has overcome an injury and was expected to be named in the Sharks' lineup.Teams:
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13
Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron
Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6
Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2
Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Substitutes: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane,
20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia MasagaSharks:
15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12
Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak,9 Charl McLeod, 8
Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton
Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis,1
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Meyer Bosman
22 Riaan Viljoen