Aaron Cruden will start in his 100th appearance for the Chiefs in their clash with the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday.
There are only two changes to the Chiefs’ starting lineup from the team that narrowly lost to the Blues last weekend, both in the backline.
In the first change Cruden rotates with rookie flyhalf Kaleb Trask once again, with Cruden starting his 100th game for the Chiefs while Trask drops to the bench.
The only other changes to the elusive backline will have Shaun Stevenson returning to the starting fifteen on the right wing, with Sean Wainui shifting to left wing following Solomon Alaimalo’s shoulder injury against the Blues.
In a further boost, All Blacks prop Angus Ta’avao has recovered from a long-term injury and could make his first Super Rugby Aotearoa appearance after being named on the bench.
He will be joined by young lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi who returns after being sidelined with a concussion. Waikato loose forward Simon Parker could make his Super Rugby debut after being named in the No 20 jersey.
‘Last weekend I was exceptionally proud of the efforts from the boys. This weekend we need to again strive for a full eighty-minute performance,’ Chiefs coach Warren Gatland said. ‘The Crusaders are a class act and will be hurting from the weekend but as a team we are ready for the challenge.
‘We have plenty to celebrate this weekend – Aaron’s impending milestone, a potential debut for Simon and we have both Angus and Naitoa returning from injury. We hope our fans come out to celebrate alongside us for our final 2020 home match.’
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Leinert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Reuben O’Neill.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Quinn Tupaea.