Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is wary of a Hurricanes backlash in Saturday’s Super Rugby match at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
The Chiefs, who sit on top of the table, named a rejigged line-up on Thursday to face the Hurricanes after returning from a successful yet gruelling three-match tour of South Africa.
With wins over the Sharks, the Cheetahs and the Bulls, the battle-weary Chiefs will take the field against the Hurricanes with three changes.
Halfback Brendon Leonard earns his first start after returning from injury, while Tanerau Latimer and Tim Nanai-Williams move back into the starting line-up as Sam Cane and Asaeli Tikoirotuma shift to the reserves bench.
Prop Toby Smith comes onto the bench, and Rennie continues to rotate his hookers, with Hika Elliott starting and Mahonri Schwalger back on the bench.
“It has been a demanding three weeks,” said Rennie, who is expecting the Hurricanes to be smarting after their humiliating 42-14 loss to the Crusaders last Saturday.
“We know it is going to be a tough encounter against the Hurricanes this weekend. They will be grumpy and have a few of their key players coming back, so it will be a hard battle.”
Chiefs: Andrew Horrell, Lelia Masaga, Richard Kahui, Sonny Bill Williams, Tim Nanai-Williams, Aaron Cruden, Brendon Leonard, Alex Bradley, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (capt), Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Arizona Taumalolo. Res: Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith, Michael Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Jackson Willison, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.