Kicking off at 7.05pm, the fixture will be the first opportunity for full crowds to attend a home match at FMG Stadium Waikato since May 22nd last year, where the Gallagher Chiefs defeated the Brumbies 40-19. Following today’s Government announcement, it has been confirmed that tickets for the highly anticipated rivalry clash will go on sale at 9am tomorrow, Thursday March 24.
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan has named his side to run out in front of the home crowd to face the Crusaders.
In the forward pack, Samisoni Taukei’aho returns to start at hooker in an otherwise unchanged front row. Josh Lord returns to gain a start in jersey number 4 alongside the in-form Brodie Retallick.
Changes in the loose forwards include the return of co-captain Sam Cane to start at openside flanker and Waikato’s Samipeni Finau at Number 8, who gains his first start of the season.
In the backline, Quinn Tupaea shifts to a starting position at second five-eighth alongside Alex Nankivell at centre. Changes to the back three include the elusive Etene Nanai-Seturo on the left wing and Shaun Stevenson returns to once again start against the Crusaders on the right wing.
The bench is stacked with both youth and experience. Aidan Ross returns to the side to possibly play his 50th match for the Gallagher Chiefs in jersey 17. Angus Ta’avao also returns as a front row replacement in jersey 18, in-line to play his 100th match for New Zealand based Super Rugby teams. Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Kaylum Boshier return to the side in jerseys 19 and 20 respectively while Mitch Jacobson looks to get on the field for the first time this season in jersey 21 to round out the forward pack replacements. Cortez Ratima will return as halfback cover and Josh Ioane will keep his spot in the back replacements to round out the match day twenty-three.
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said there is excitement across the whole squad and club to run out in front of a loud home crowd.
“The whole squad and club are really excited to play in front of a home crowd as it’s been a long time coming. We know our passionate fans, members and sponsors are looking forward to getting back to FMG Stadium Waikato and we will be doing everything we can to put on a performance they can be proud of against a quality Crusaders side.” said McMillan.
McMillan acknowledged the two key milestones that could be achieved this weekend by two very talented front-rowers.
“Both Aidan and Angus are outstanding contributors both on and off the field in our team. We look forward to celebrating their significant milestones this weekend and know it will be particularly special for their friends and whānau.” finished McMillan.
Gallagher Chiefs vs Crusaders will kick off at 7.05pm from FMG Stadium Waikato and tickets will be available to the general public from 9am tomorrow morning at www.chiefs.co.nz.
Gallagher Chiefs to face Crusaders
1. Ollie Norris
2. Samisoni Taukei'aho
3. Sione Mafileo
4. Josh Lord
5. Brodie Retallick
6. Tupou Vaa'i
7. Sam Can (cc)
8. Semipeni Finau
9. Brad Weber (cc)
10. Bryn Gatland
11. Etene Nanai-Seturo
12. Quinn Tuapea
13. Alex Nankivell
14. Shaun Stevenson
15. Kaleb Trask
16. Tyrone Thompson
17. Aidan Ross (50th match)
18. Angus Ta'avao (100th NZ Super Rugby match)
19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi
20. Kaylum Boshier
21. Mitch Jacobson
22. Cortez Ratima
23. Josh Ioane
Unavailable for selection:
Luke Jacobson, Reuben O’Neill, Gideon Wrampling, Simon Parker, Anton Lienert-Brown, Xavier Roe, Emoni Narawa, Solomone Tukuafu, Laghlan McWhannell, Mitch Brown, Bradley Slater, Pita Gus Sowakula, Chase Tiatia.