Preview: Chiefs v Reds

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Friday, May 5, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

ROUND 11: Chiefs v Reds, Saturday May 6, 7.35pm, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
Dissatisfied with their form against the Sunwolves, the Chiefs have won four of their last five games, with only the away loss to the Stormers as the blemish on their record. But the last two wins, over the Force (16-7) and the Sunwolves (27-20) have not been representative of the Chiefs at their best. Meanwhile, the Reds have only a win over the Kings (47-34) in their last four games although they went close to downing the Waratahs only to lose 26-29 late in the game. That occurred due to a decline in discipline and they won't be wanting a repeat performance this weekend.

Second five-eighths Charlie Ngatai's battle with concussion has been well documented but he has come through the treatment system, with club rugby behind him, and as an integral part of the Chiefs backline before his injury last year he will be a welcome return to the mid-field. His combination with Anton Lienert-Brown shapes as a potential game-changer for the side after recent indifferent form. An immediate impact may be expecting too much but it should be a genuine confidence boost for the side.

The Reds will have to make do without one of their key strike weapons from this year, fullback Karmichael Hunt. He has suffered a knee injury that prevented him being considered. That has resulted in Campbell Magnay making his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury. He will play at centre with skipper Samu Kerevi moving in one to second five-eighths while Duncan Paia'aua has moved to fullback.

Veteran George Smith, he played his first Super Rugby game in 2000, will provide an interesting contest in the loose for the home team. When he returned to Australia from Japan to play for the Reds he brought with him fellow loosie New Zealand-born Hendrik Tui, who is in his second season with the side. He had played for the Wild Knights and Sungoliath in Japan and won selection in the Japan Test side, playing 25 Tests and scoring 11 tries. Supplementing their efforts will be Wallaby No.8 Scott Higginbotham. It promises to be a tough night for Sam Cane, Michael Leitch and Mitchell Brown.


Chiefs: 1.Kane Hames, 2.Hika Elliot, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Dominic Bird, 5.Brodie Retallick, 6.Mitchell Brown, 7.Sam Cane (co-c), 8.Michael Leitch, 9.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10.Aaron Cruden (co-c),11.James Lowe, 12.Charlie Ngatai, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Tony Pulu, 15.Damian McKenzie.

Substitutes: 16.Nathan Harris, 17.Atu Moli, 18.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 19.Taleni Seu, 20.Liam Messam, 21.Jonathan Taumatein, 22.Sam McNicol, 23.Shaun Stevenson.

Reds: 1.Sef Fa'agase, 2.Stephen Moore, 3.Sam Talakai, 4.Rob Simmons, 5.Lukhan Tui, 6.Hendrik Tui, 7.George Smith, 8.Scott Higginbotham, 9.James Tutlle, 10.Quade Cooper, 11.Eto Nabuli, 12.Samu Kerevi (captain), 13.Campbell Magnay, 14.Izaia Perese, 15.Duncan Paia'aua.

Substitutes: 16.Alex Mafi, 17.Kirwan Sanday, 18.Taniela Tupou, 19.Izack Rodda, 20.Leroy Houston, 21.Nick Frisby, 22.Hamish Steward, 23.Chris Kuridrani.