Chiefs pumped for long-awaited return to Yarrow Stadium

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The famed New Plymouth ground, previously known as Rugby Park, had to undergo an upgrade to lift its grandstands to earthquake standard. As a result, it hasn't been used since mid-2018, but the high-flying Chiefs will celebrate by ensuring plenty of their squad will run out in front of home supporters.

All Blacks locks Josh Lord and Tupou Vaa'i will lead the way alongside props Jared Proffit and Bradley Slater.

Lock Brodie Retallick, co-captains Sam Cane and Brad Weber, at flanker and halfback, respectively, have been rested.

Cortez Ratima will start at halfback with Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi on the bench.

In the front row, Irishman John Ryan will start with Atu Moli back from injury to start from the bench, with Ollie Norris also listed.

The side's key performers this season, first five-eighths Damian McKenzie and fullback Shaun Stevenson will start, and in the midfield, Rameka Pohipi will be at second five-eighths with Anton Lienert-Brown outside him. Etene Nanai-Seturo and Emoni Narawa will again start on the wings.

Coach Clayton McMillan said, "It's nice to be able to get back down there in front of our fans from Taranaki and moreso because we have a number of our squad who call that place home."

McMillan said Narawa was reaping the benefits of the hard work over the summer and was now in the best condition he had ever been.

"He's managed to stay relatively injury free. He still gets those little hamstring injuries and calf issues that fast players seem to get – most of us don't have to worry about that sort of stuff. And that's helping him be more consistent."

The team changes, especially those involving their All Blacks, were to give them a break that would allow them to have a clear run for however long they remain in the competition.

Captain for the game, No8 Luke Jacobson, said he was enjoying the success the side had achieved this year and the big crowd for their home game against the Crusaders two weeks ago was the largest he had played in front of in Hamilton. He had grown up seeing full houses during the 2012-13 seasons when the Chiefs won their Super Rugby titles, and it was enjoyable seeing the fans getting behind them again.

He was hoping the Taranaki fans would continue that trend at the weekend.

They were aware the Reds had key players they built their game around, and the Chiefs' task would be slowing them down and denying them the opportunities while also looking to contain the Reds' lineout abilities.

Chiefs v Queensland Reds: Friday12 May, 7.05pm, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth. TICKETS.


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