Chiefs name inexperienced squad for clash with Sharks

The Chiefs have named a heavily depleted side to face the Sharks in Durban on Sunday morning.

The Waikato side is without key players for the Super Rugby fixture with their All Blacks remaining in New Zealand this week for a training camp this weekend.

As a result, Damian McKenzie, Brodie Retallick, Anton Lienert-Brown and Nathan Harris all needed to be replaced in the team.

Captain Charlie Ngatai moves to the centres to replace Lienert-Brown as a result, with Scott Stevenson slotting into fullback to cover while Marty McKenzie takes over his brother's spot at first-five.

Sean Wainui has also come into the starting XV after rotating on the wing with Toni Pulu.

The Chiefs have made just one change in the forwards, with Pita Gus Sowakula starting at No.8 while Tyler Ardron fills in for Retallick at lock.

Head Coach Colin Cooper says he and the inexperienced team are looking forward to the challenge.

"We are in our second week of this tough tour, and we were very happy to beat the Stormers," he said.

"We are looking forward to a great contest in Durban against the Sharks. It's going to be another tough game for us, but we are really excited about the challenge ahead.

"The team has united really quickly, and we are certainly looking forward to the challenge in the Shark Tank."

Chiefs: 1. Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2. Liam Polwart, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 4. Tyler Ardron, 5. Michael Allardice, 6. Luke Jacobson, 7. Liam Messam, 8. Pita Gus Sowakula, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Marty McKenzie, 11. Solomon Alaimalo, 12. Johnny Fa'auli, 13. Charlie Ngatai (C), 14. Sean Wainui, 15. Shaun Stevenson

Substitutes: 16. Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17. Sam Prattley, 18. Sosefo Kautai, 19. Jesse Parete, 20. Matt Matich, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Luteru Laulala, 23. Toni Pulu

Liam Messam.
Chiefs v Jaguares, Super Rugby, Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua, New Zealand on the 4th May 2018. Copyright Photo: Jeremy Ward / www.photosport.nz
Liam Messam Source: Photosport


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'It will change a few lives' - Lima Sopoaga using English payday to help family

Former All Blacks first-five Lima Sopoaga has opened up about his decision to trade the black jersey for financial security, leaving New Zealand for English side Wasps earlier this year.

Sopoaga, 27, became yet another All Black to head abroad, signing a lucrative deal with English Premiership side Wasps, forgoing the chance to turn out for New Zealand at next year's World Cup in Japan.

In an interview with The Times though, Sopoaga says that the financial security on offer from the English club was too great to turn down.

"To come over here, to uproot my partner [Miriam] and daughter [Milla, aged one] was a very big decision," Sopoaga said.

"But in the long run, it will be the right one. Guys in New Zealand who are second or third string, we're not getting paid the same as the Beauden Barretts.

"I fell into that category, I've no qualms about it, that's the way it goes."

Sopoaga also said that his English payday is going towards helping his extended family, rather than on extravagant purchases.

"I'm not just playing for myself over here, it's about making a better life for my family, making Mum and Dad's life a bit easier, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.

"Now, if I'm smart and make the right choices, if I'm not buying stupid cars and stuff like that, this money will be put to good use. It won't just change my life, it will change a few lives."

Sopoaga concluded by saying he has no regrets about his exit from New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks jersey.

"Yeah, you can say, who wouldn't want to play 50 Tests and go to a World Cup?"

But I've been an All Black, it was an awesome part of my life. But life's not always that simple and it's time to write a new chapter."

Lima Sopoaga celebrates against South Africa
Lima Sopoaga celebrates against South Africa Source: Photosport


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Dane Coles prepares for long-awaited return to action - ‘He'll bring some fire and niggle off the bench’

It's been almost a year since he was last seen on the rugby field, but Dane Coles is finally set to make his long-awaited return from injury.

The 56-time capped All Black hooker hasn't played since last November, but will come off the bench in Wellington's crucial Mitre 10 Cup clash against Taranaki tomorrow night.

The plan is for him to have 20 minutes off the bench in the final round robin game of the season.

It's been close to a year since Coles injured his knee against France.

"Having played with him for a few years, it's really encouraging and I'm really pumped to have him back in the team," said fellow front row forward Jeff Toomaga-Allen.

"And I know he'll bring some fire and niggle off the bench." 

The All Blacks hooker will turn out for Wellington tomorrow, having not played since last November. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala shows off scars from broken arm as he prepares for rugby return

After nearly seven months on the sidelines, All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala is firming for his return to action, named on the bench for Counties' Mitre 10 Cup season finale against Canterbury on Saturday.

Having cemented his spot in the All Blacks' front row towards the end of 2017, Laulala's season was derailed just two weeks into his 2018 campaign, suffering a broken arm playing for the Chiefs. 

However, after a long road to recovery, Laulala is just one of three All Blacks front rowers to make their returns this weekend, with the Counties prop having seen the silver lining in his time away from rugby.

"It feels like an eternity," he began.

"I'm just really grateful for the time I got with my family - especially my wife. We're expecting our first child, (I'm) just trying to stay on the positive side of it all."

This isn't Laulala's first brush with serious injury, snapping three ligaments in 2015, ruled out for a year afterwards and fearing he'd never play again.

The burly front rower has used his experience though, helping him to come back stronger for a second time.

"I've been through some pretty intense trainings lately."

"This is my first full week with the boys. I'm going for whatever minutes I get, even if I get five minutes, I'll just be grateful to get back on the field, and just get an opportunity again."

Laulala will make his Counties debut, should he come off the bench.

After injury at the start of Super Rugby, Laulala will play for Counties this week. Source: 1 NEWS


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Beauden Barrett 'still the number one' first-five over Richie Mo'unga, says Dan Carter

All Blacks great Dan Carter has thrown his support firmly behind Beauden Barrett as the first-choice in the number 10 jersey heading into next year's World Cup, following Richie Mo'unga's heroics against South Africa last weekend.

Coming off the bench in the second half in Pretoria, Mo'unga proved to be the All Blacks' saviour, slotting a conversion after the final whistle to steal the win after his side had been 30-13 down to the resurgent Springboks.

With Barrett having moved to fullback to accommodate Mo'unga's inclusion, debate has begun to arise as to whether or not the twice reigning World Player of the Year stay in the number 15 jersey, allowing for both stars to play at the same time though.

Speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning though, Carter said that the All Blacks need to persist with Barrett as the creative linchpin of the side.

Mo'unga is set to start in the No.10 jersey against Argentina in Nelson. Source: 1 NEWS

"He's still the number one 10 but to have the competition with Richie there, and when the time is right in certain games for Beaudie to go to the back and Richie come on and add another string to the backline," he said.

"It's the kind of depth and competition you want in a squad.

"For me Beaudie is still the leader in that All Blacks side and what he's achieved in the last three or four years has been incredible."

Carter also praised Mo'unga's emergence as a genuine world class player, having steered the Crusaders to back to back Super Rugby titles.

"I'm extremely proud of Richie and the way he's progressed over the last couple of years. I worked with him down at the Crusaders and he's got such a clear head. He doesn't let pressure get to him as we saw in the weekend.

"The fact he's putting Beaudie under a lot of pressure is great."
 

Barrett unselfishly let young Mo'unga take the game winning kick against South Africa. Source: 1 NEWS


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