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Lienert-Brown returns for winless Chiefs in clash against Highlanders

Head coach Warren Gatland has made extensive personnel changes to his side for this weekend’s clash against the Highlanders in Hamilton as his side chases their first win.

Source: Photosport

Lienert-Brown returns at centre after being sidelined with a concussion sustained in the fourth round of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season against the Crusaders.

The Chiefs have also benched Aaron Cruden, slotting 21-year old Kaleb Trask in at first-five eighth. Alex Nankivell also comes into the starting XV, accompanying Leinert-Brown in the midfield.

Chiefs newcomer Tupou Vaa'i is also a new addition to the starting side after lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi was ruled out with a concussion.

After a bye last week, the Chiefs will be looking to capitalise as the Highlanders come into this weekend on a three-game losing streak.

Gatland said his squad have benefitted from the break, engaging with the community in their time off.

“The team have had an enjoyable break and have returned refreshed and hungry to earn a win this Sunday. We have enjoyed been out and about in the community this week, the team have been fundraising for our community partner Variety – The Children’s Charity for their Warm Hearts Winter Appeal in a number of the malls in Hamilton and we have had the pleasure of our members attending training.”

Gatland anticipates a close matchup this weekend after the Super Rugby Aotearoa opener which the Highlanders won 28-27.

“It was a tightly contested battle when we faced the Highlanders in the first Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa match in Dunedin. They have a number of threats across the park. We need to be prepared to defend that and bide our time when we are given the opportunity. We then need to apply pressure, force turnovers, attack and execute accordingly. This Sunday is about us starting better and continuing to finish strongly so we secure a win at home that our fans deserve to see.”

Chiefs: Aidan Ross ,Bradley Slater, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa’i, Mitchell Brown, Lachlan Boshier, Sam Cane (C), Pita Gus Sowakulak, Brad Weber, Kaleb Trask, Solomon Alaimalo, Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sean Wainui, Damian McKenzie

Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Reuben O’Neill, Ross Geldenhuys, Adam Thomson, Mitchell Karpik, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Aaron Cruden, Quinn Tupaea