A formidable front row has been named with loosehead prop Aidan Ross, hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and tighthead Angus Ta’avao lining up to start. Locking duo of Tupou Vaa’i and Mitchell Brown will complete the tight five, with Naitoa Ah-Kuoi covering on the bench. A powerful loose forward combination will see Pita Gus Sowakula shift from number eight to the blindside, Lachlan Boshier will don the number seven jersey and Luke Jacobson will return at number eight.
In the backs, Gallagher Chiefs halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi shifts to the bench as cover with the return of Gallagher Chiefs Co-Captain Brad Weber. Weber will combine with first five-eighth Bryn Gatland who gets the nod in the number ten jersey. Alex Nankivell and All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown will once again combine in the midfield. Electrifying wingers of Etene Nanai-Seturo and Jonah Lowe return to the left and right wings. Playmaker Damian McKenzie will complete an impressive starting fifteen at fullback.
Last weekend’s starting front row of hooker Bradley Slater and propping duo of Ollie Norris and Sione Mafileo retain their spot in the twenty-three. Following an impressive Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa debut last weekend, loose forward Zane Kapeli has been named on the bench in jersey number twenty. Exciting utility back cover of Rameka Poihipi and Chase Tiatia will be called upon to inject their energy off the bench.
McMillan said the team are looking forward to the challenge ahead this weekend.
“On any given day, any team can be beaten, and we have proven that. This weekend we are going down to Christchurch with confidence and believe we can upset the Crusaders. The Crusaders have set the benchmark for the competition and we respect they are a great side, but we have earned the right to be in the final and have a job to deliver on Saturday.”
“It wasn’t an easy selection for us, but everyone has played their part in getting the team to the final and for those not selected, they have played a big role to ensure we are prepared for this weekend,” McMillan finished.
1: Aidan Ross (42)
2: Samisoni Taukei’aho (43)
3: Angus Ta’avao (42)
4: Tupou Vaa’i (13)
5: Mitchell Brown (52)
6: Pita Gus Sowakula (33)
7: Lachlan Boshier (58)
8: Luke Jacobson (31)
9: Brad Weber (92)
10: Bryn Gatland (5)
11: Etene Nanai-Seturo (20)
12: Alex Nankivell (37)
13: Anton Lienert-Brown (88)
14: Jonah Lowe (5)
15: Damian McKenzie (91)
Bradley Slater (21), Ollie Norris (11), Sione Mafileo (5), Naitoa Ah Kuoi (19), Zane Kapeli (1), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (45), Rameka Poihipi (2), Chase Tiatia (5)
() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets
*denotes Gallagher Chiefs debut
**denotes Sky Super Rugby debut