The Gallagher Chiefs will start with a forward pack boasting a collective 675 caps at this level, and a backline with an average of more than 50 caps each.
There is a settled look to the pack where Ollie Norris will start in the front row with All Black Samisoni Taukei’aho and Irish international John Ryan, who has been thoroughly impressive both on and off the field.
Tupou Vaa’i returns from injury to the middle row with centurion Brodie Retallick while Luke Jacobson returns to join Samipeni Finau and Sam Cane in the loose.
The only change in the backline from last week’s hard-fought win over the Waratahs in Sydney will see the exciting Taranaki 22-year-old Daniel Rona get his first start at centre after impressing off the bench.
There is plenty of power and excitement from the reserves to add much needed impact.
“This is a game that the boys look forward to,” said head coach Clayton McMillan. “They are our closest neighbours and they are a team stacked with All Blacks.
“They understand how they want to play and they have the ability to impose that game on you if you allow them. They present a significant challenge.
“The rivalry seems to bring the best out in both teams and I anticipate this will be a very physical contest.
“We owe it to our loyal supporters to deliver a performance that they can be proud of and hope they arrive in droves to witness what should be a barn-stormer.”
The game kicks off at 7.05pm (NZ Time) on Saturday.
The team is (Chiefs caps in brackets):
1. Ollie Norris (33)
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (68)
3. John Ryan (5)
4. Brodie Retallick (119)
5. Tupou Vaa’i (34)
6. Samipeni Finau (22)
7. Sam Cane (Co Captain, 141)
8. Luke Jacobson (53)
9. Brad Weber (Co Captain, 114)
10. Damian McKenzie (100)
11. Etene Nanai-Seturo (33)
12. Rameka Poihipi (19)
13. Daniel Rona (2)
14. Emoni Narawa (9)
15. Shaun Stevenson (72)
16. Tyrone Thompson (7)
17. Aidan Ross (65)
18. George Dyer (12)
19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi (38)
20. Pita Gus Sowakula (58)
21. Cortez Ratima (14)
22. Bryn Gatland (26)
23. Liam Coombes-Fabling (2)
Players not considered because of injury: Angus Ta’avao (season), Atu Moli, Josh Lord, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Laghlan McWhannell, Alex Nankivell.