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PREVIEW: Chiefs v Reds

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Thursday, July 7, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 16: Reds v Chiefs, 9.45pm (NZT) Friday 8 July, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

TALE OF THE TAPE
The fortunes of these two sides couldn’t be much different. The Chiefs sit atop the NZ Conference with 10 wins from 13 matches while the Reds are floundering at fourth place in the Australian conference with just three wins all season. Overall, the Reds hold the edge historically with 10 wins out of 19 matches played between the sides but will need to pull out something special to upset the NZ Conference leaders.

QUICK TAP: CHIEFS READY FOR POSITIVE REDS

MESSAM RETURNS
After missing out on selection in the New Zealand Sevens side to play at the Rio Olympics, Chiefs centurion Liam Messam has immediately made himself available for the side. Messam will start on the bench against the Reds and provides a big boost to the team with the play offs looming. In an injury struck season for the Chiefs, the return of Messam will help to bolster the Chiefs loose forward stocks and provide crucial experience at the business end of the season.

TONGAN THOR
After an impressive Investec Super Rugby debut against the Brumbies last week, 130kg rampaging prop Taniela ‘Tongan Thor’ Tupou is set to be unleashed from the bench against the Chiefs. The former Sacred Heart College schoolboy star has been developing nicely in the Reds system says Captain James Slipper. “Most of us at the Reds don’t enjoy tackling him. He’s a big boy,” Slipper said.

FORWARD REJIG
With Brodie Retallick being rested, the Chiefs have rejigged their forward pack with Taleni Seu moving from blindside flanker to second row. In the loose forwards, Lachlan Boshier comes in for his first start at open side flanker with Sam Cane moving to number eight and Tom Sanders shifting to the blindside. The loose forward trio will have to be flexible with Liam Messam able to play any of the three positions if he takes the field from the bench.

TEAMS
Chiefs: 15: Damian McKenzie 14: Toni Pulu 13: Seta Tamanivalu 12: Anton Lienert-Brown 11: James Lowe 10: Aaron Cruden 9: Tawera Kerr-Barlow 8: Sam Cane 7: Lachlan Boshier 6: Tom Sanders 5: Taleni Seu 4: Dominic Bird 3: Atu Moli 2: Nathan Harris 1: Kane Hames
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Messam, Mitchell Brown, Brad Weber, Andrew Horrell, Sam McNicol

Reds: 15: Jack Tuttle 14: Chris Kuridrani 13: Samu Kerevi 12: Henry Taefu 11: Eto Nabuli 10: Duncan Paia’Aua 9: Nick Frisby 8: Curtis Browning 7: Liam Gill 6: Hendrick Tui 5: Kane Douglas 4: Cadeyrn Neville 3: Greg Holmes 2: Andrew Ready 1: James Slipper
Reserves: Matthew Mafi, Sef Faagase, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Lealaiaulolo, Leroy Houston, James Tuttle, Anthony Fainga’a, Campbell Magnay