The occasion will be extremely special for Co-Captain Brad Weber who has been named to start in what will be his 100th match in a Gallagher Chiefs jersey. Weber is set to become the club’s eighth ‘Chiefs Centurion’ joining the exclusive group which includes Liam Messam, Hika Elliot, Stephen Donald, Tanerau Latimer, Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Aaron Cruden.
The team to face the Blues also includes the return of All Blacks Anton Lienert-Brown, Josh Lord and Tupou Vaa’i who will start at six for the first time in a Gallagher Chiefs jersey.
Loosehead prop Aidan Ross gains his first start of the season with Ollie Norris moving to the bench, as does hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho after celebrating his 50th Gallagher Chiefs match in round one. Sione Mafileo keeps his starting position at tighthead prop to complete the front row. The starting locking duo is a mix of All Blacks youth and experience, with Josh Lord gaining his first start in the number 4 jersey, joined by Brodie Retallick in the number 5 jersey. All Black Tupou Vaa’i returns to start at blindside flanker, alongside Co-Captain Sam Cane at openside. The powerful Pita Gus Sowakula keeps his Number 8 spot to round out the starting pack.
In the backs, Co-Captain Brad Weber will start at halfback in his 100th match for the Gallagher Chiefs, pairing up with Josh Ioane who keeps his number 10 jersey from round one. No change to the starting midfield which faced the Highlanders with Quinn Tupaea at second five-eighth and Alex Nankivell at centre. In the back three, Etene Nanai-Seturo gains his first start of the season on the left wing, accompanied by Shaun Stevenson on the right and Chase Tiatia at fullback, who also earns his first start of 2022.
The Gallagher Chiefs bench is a 5/3 split with hooker Bradley Slater and props Ollie Norris and Angus Ta’avao covering the front row. Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Kaylum Boshier have again been named on the bench in jerseys 19 and 20 respectively. In the backs, Waikato halfback Xavier Roe will cover the impending Chiefs Centurion, and Bryn Gatland retains his spot on the bench. All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown returns for the first time this season in jersey 23 to round out the team to face the Blues.
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan acknowledged Weber on the significant milestone he is set to achieve.
“Brad’s contribution to the Gallagher Chiefs throughout his career has been immense, and he thoroughly deserves to stand alongside an exclusive group of Chiefs Centurions when he brings up his 100th this Saturday. He is an outstanding team man, consummate professional and clearly a great player. We look forward to sharing this auspicious milestone with Brad, alongside his partner, friends and family” said McMillan.
McMillan said the team is ready for what should be an intense rivalry match against the Blues.
“The Blues were very impressive for the majority of their game against the Hurricanes. They physically imposed themselves on the game both sides of the ball, looked organised, hungry and dangerous across the park. They would have understandably been hurt by the loss and we expect a sharp response from them this weekend, particularly home at Eden Park. We also know this fixture is a highlight on the calendar for our loyal supporters given our long history as rivals, so as always, we are focused on delivering a performance our Chiefs whānau will be proud of.” said McMillan.
Gallagher Chiefs to face Blues:
1. Aidan Ross
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
3. Sione Mafileo
4. Josh Lord
5. Brodie Retallick
6. Tupou Vaa’i
7. Sam Cane (cc)
8. Pita Gus Sowakula
9. Brad Weber (cc) – 100th Match for the Chiefs
10. Josh Ioane
11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
12. Quinn Tupaea
13. Alex Nankivell
14. Shaun Stevenson
15. Chase Tiatia
16. Bradley Slater
17. Ollie Norris
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
20. Kaylum Boshier
21. Xavier Roe
22. Bryn Gatland
23. Anton Lienert-Brown
Unavailable for selection:
Luke Jacobson, Gideon Wrampling, Kaleb Trask, Mitch Brown, Reuben O’Neill, Simon Parker.