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Liam Messam set to earn 180th Chiefs cap as changes rung in for dead rubber against Blues

Former All Black Liam Messam could earn a club-record 180th cap for the Chiefs this Saturday after he was named on the bench for their dead-rubber match against the Blues.

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The 37-year-old was called into his beloved Chiefs after the Waikato squad suffered multiple serious injuries in their loose forwards. Source: Breakfast

Messam shocked and delighted media and fans alike earlier this week when he answered an SOS call for his beloved Waikato franchise, who have been severely depleted in the loose forwards due to a number of serious injuries.

The 37-year-old told Breakfast earlier this week he was just helping his old club out.

"I've been training for a professional boxing fight so that's kept me really fit for the last 17 weeks," he said.

"But at the moment I'm just holding tackle bags and trying to get the boys ready for the game on Saturday." 

That could all change on Saturday after Messam was named in the No.19 jersey for a new-look squad.

The biggest absences are regular captain Brad Weber, in-form fullback Damian McKenzie - whose kicking game has given the Chiefs three comeback wins in extra time in their last three games - and powerhouse All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown.

In fact, coach Clayton McMillan has handed six players their debuts for Saturday's game as he rests a majority of the squad for next week's already-confirmed final against the Crusaders.

“This game on the weekend gives those players who have been selected a significant opportunity to demonstrate that they are good enough to play in the final next week, but also put their hand up for regular selection during the trans-Tasman competition," McMillan said.

"We are really happy for these guys and excited to see what they will bring on Saturday.”

Saturday's game is scheduled to kick off after the historic women's Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and Blues.

Chiefs (Caps): 1. Ollie Norris (10), 2. Bradley Slater (20), 3. Sione Mafileo (4), 4. Samipeni Finau (5), 5. Josh Lord (1), 6. Viliami Taulani*, 7. Zane Kapeli*, 8. Pita Gus Sowakula (32), 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (44), 10. Bryn Gatland (4), 11. Shaun Stevenson (37), 12. Rameka Poihipi (1), 13. Sean Wainui (42), 14. Bailyn Sullivan (4), 15. Kaleb Trask (12)

Reserves: 16. Nathan Harris (60), 17. Ezekiel Lindenmuth*, 18. Joe Apikotoa (3), 19. Liam Messam (179), 20. Tom Florence*, 21. Xavier Roe (1), 22. Rivez Reihana*, 23. Gideon Wrampling*