“It’s an important game for us against the Brumbies. They gave us a real lesson last year and are particularly tough at home in Canberra where their tactical kicking game and maul are real weapons,” said McMillan.
“We have selected a largely stable team, with Tupou Vaa’i and Anton Lienert-Brown the obvious absentees as they sit out their last All Blacks rest weeks.”
The Brumbies have been a class apart among Australian teams this year nine wins from 12 games placing them third on the table and making them a challenging opponent for the high-flying Chiefs.
Vaa’i’s rest week opens up a spot at lock for 24-year-old Laghlan McWhannell to be named in the starting 15 for the first time this season as he makes his return from injury. Likewise, Josh Ioane also earns the same honour at first-five. This change in the number 10 jersey sees the competition's top point scorer Damian McKenzie (137 points) move into fullback with Shaun Stevenson, the current top try scorer (10 tries), to add impact off the bench.
The powerhouse front-row trio of Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei'aho and George Dyer are named to start again this week, with Brodie Retallick joining McWhannell at lock.
All Blacks Pita Gus Sowakula and Sam Cane will run out as the loose forwards, with Luke Jacobson in the No. 8 jersey. His form this season sees him equal with Scott Barrett for the most dominant tackles (12). The outstanding loose forward Samipeni Finau will add energy from the bench.
Brad Weber holds his starting spot at halfback with impact from Cortez Ratima in the reserves.
The dynamic duo of Etene Nanai-Seturo and Emoni Narawa start on the wing, with the midfield of Alex Nankivell and Rameka Poihipi. Daniel Rona, who this week signed a full-time contract with the Gallagher Chiefs is named as a midfield reserve. Ollie Norris, Brad Slater and John Ryan will provide support for the front row, as will Naitoa Ah Kuoi for the locks.
“The team has had an excellent week of preparation and is excited about the opportunity of being on the road, building our connection as a group and finding growth in our game,” said McMillan.
A win for the Chiefs in Canberra will see the team secure the minor premiership with one week to spare.
Gallagher Chiefs team to face the Brumbies (Chiefs caps in brackets) on Saturday 27 May, 9.35pm NZT at GIO Stadium in Canberra:
1: Aidan Ross (70)
2: Samisoni Taukei'aho (74)
3: George Dyer (17)
4: Brodie Retallick (124)
5: Laghlan McWhannell (5)
6: Pita Gus Sowakula (64)
7: Sam Cane (Co-Captain, 146)
8: Luke Jacobson (59)
9: Brad Weber (Co-Captain, 119)
10: Josh Ioane (9)
11: Etene Nanai-Seturo (39)
12: Rameka Poihipi (25)
13: Alex Nankivell (66)
14: Emoni Narawa (9)
15: Damian McKenzie (107)
Reserves: Bradley Slater (46), Ollie Norris (40), John Ryan (12), Naitoa Ah Kuoi (44), Samipeni Finau (27), Cortez Ratima (21), Daniel Rona (7), Shaun Stevenson (79)