New faces ready to make Gallagher Chiefs debuts

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Players missing from the side include co-captain and halfback Brad Weber, props Sione Mafileo and Atu Moli, locks Josh Lord and Laghlan McWhannell, first five-eighths Josh Ioane, second five-eighths Alex Nankiville, wing Jonah Lowe and utility Chase Tiatia.


As a result, some of the less experienced squad members will get a chance, and he was happy with that. Prop George Dyer and halfback Cortez Ratima could make their Super Rugby Pacific debuts from the bench.


"I think it's hugely competitive, and it's not too dissimilar to the one we played a final against the Crusaders with last year, and nearly pulled off a miracle," he said.


"The Crusaders are a good team to play against. They set the benchmark. You can't produce anything less than a flawless performance to get up against them, particularly at home. That brings an edge to your environment every time you play them, and a lot of our guys enjoy the individual match-ups," he said.


Captain Sam Cane said it had not been a disruptive week due to the coaching decision to name the team early in the week.


He said he felt good playing again after being out of the game for much of last season and was looking after his body.


His shoulder still requires strapping for games, and he has to maintain exercises for it before and after games.


The Crusaders had shown their usual strengths in their set-piece and lineout drive and were playing as they usually did at the start of the season.

"We're all in similar boats where a lot of the All Blacks' boys have been easing back into minutes and this round will see most of them playing 80 minutes and cranking up," he said.


"It'll be a good battle upfront, it always is and it determines the outcome of these sorts of matches," he said.


McMillan said only one player had tested positive for Covid.


"Like other teams, we've had people exposed to Covid as close contacts.


"We had seven guys identified after the weekend, one has come back as a positive case but asymptomatic, the other six have all be cleared through PCR and RAT testing," he said.


"You can put some robust measures in place to try and keep this virus out, but it finds its way in.


"What we know is that you've just got to remain flexible, but you need to put the interests of the team first.


"When we feel like we've potentially been put at risk, then we'll isolate those people, and we'll select the team with what we have left available."



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