Rennie tweaks Chiefs for Highlanders match

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made just two changes to his starting line-up to take on the Highlanders on Saturday.

Hunting their ninth win of the season, the Chiefs are boosted by the return of dynamic winger James Lowe and influential inside centre Charlie Ngatai as they tackle the defending champions at Stadium Waikato in Hamilton.

Coming off the bye, the Chiefs battled to down the Sharks 24-22 in New Plymouth last Friday, and Rennie knows they’ll need to lift against the Highlanders.

“We’ve been working hard this week to prepare for a massive challenge on Saturday night,” he said.

“The Highlanders are very similar to us, they’ve got a group of guys who work hard for each other.

“With game-breakers across the park, they are the type of team that will sting you if you kick poorly or turn the ball over. It’ll be a hell of a spectacle with two very positive Kiwi teams on display.”

Rennie has made further changes in the reserves, with Michael Allardice and Maama Vaipulu recovering from injury to re-join the 23.

Counties Manukau utility back Sam Vaka is poised to make his Super Rugby debut off the bench, the agile 23-year-old adding an exciting edge to the reserves having previously played for the All Blacks Sevens team.

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Toni Pulu, Seta Tamanivalu, Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden, Brad Weber, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane, Taleni Seu, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Hiroshi Yamashita, Hika Elliot, Mitchell Graham. Reserves: Nathan Harris, Siate Tokolahi, Kane Hames, Michael Allardice, Maama Vaipulu, Kayne Hammington, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sam Vaka.

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