Warren Gatland stamps his mark on first Chiefs XV by leaving host of All Blacks stars on the bench

Warren Gatland has made some eyebrow-raising selections to kick off the 2020 season after naming his first Chiefs squad for Friday's clash with the Blues.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Warren Gatland updated where the All Blacks' livewire is at with his recovery. Source: 1 NEWS

Gatland's biggest call sees captain and All Black Sam Cane starting at No.8, with loose forwards Lachlan Boshier and Mitchell Karpik at six and seven respectively.

The only other All Black in the Waikato pack will be Nepo Laulala at tighthead prop.

In the backline, Gatland has opted to start Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi ahead of Brad Weber at halfback and with 21-year-old Kaleb Trask joining him on debut at first-five.

That sees Damian McKenzie confirm his return at fullback while returning veteran Aaron Cruden takes a spot in the reserves.

Joining Weber and Cruden on the bench is plenty of All Blacks firepower though with Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao and Anton Lienert-Brown all playing impact roles at Eden Park.

Gatland said his team is looking forward to the Battle of the Bombay curtain-raiser.

“We have an exciting squad and we believe the team we have chosen reflects this," Gatland said.

"It is a great opportunity for our rookies to pull on the Chiefs jersey for the first time in what is expected to be a great competitive derby between two rival sides.

"We know the Blues will be a good sturdy challenge first up but one the boys and fans are excited about.”

Friday's game kicks off at the earlier time of 7pm.

Chiefs (caps): 1. Aidan Ross (25), 2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (22), 3. Nepo Laulala (32), 4. Tyler Ardron (26), 5. Mitchell Brown (33), 6. Lachlan Boshier (44), 7. Mitchell Karpik (20), 8. Sam Cane (111), 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (32), 10. Kaleb Trask*, 11. Solomon Alaimalo (38), 12. Alex Nankivell (22), 13. Quinn Tupaea*, 14. Sean Wainui (26), 15. Damian McKenzie (72)

Reserves: 16. Bradley Slater (2), 17. Atu Moli (38), 18. Angus Ta’avao (32), 19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi*, 20. Pita Gus Sowakula (15), 21. Brad Weber (72), 22. Aaron Cruden (89), 23. Anton Lienert-Brown (69)