Japanese captain Michael Leitch and former Warriors NRL winger Glen Fisiiahi are poised to play for the Chiefs after being included on the bench to face the Lions in their Super Rugby clash in Hamilton.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made two changes to his starting team for Saturday’s game after their season-opening 27-21 win over the Crusaders in Christchurch.
However, the reserves warrant as much attention.
Leitch is poised to make his first appearance of his second season with the Chiefs. In between times, he led Japan in a memorable Rugby World Cup campaign, which included the groundbreaking upset of South Africa.
Fisiiahi scored 15 tries for the Warriors in an injury-plagued 25-game NRL career which spanned five seasons.
Rennie has been delighted by the raw speed and potential of the 25-year-old, who will make his Super Rugby debut.
One starting change is forced by a shoulder injury to winger Shaun Stevenson who is replaced by Taranaki speedster Latu Vaeno, who will also make his first appearance.
There is a reshuffle in the loose forwards, where Taleni Seu drops to the bench despite a fine debut in Christchurch.
Tom Sanders shifts from No.8 to blindside flanker, with Maama Vaipulu inserted at the base of the scrum.
Rennie is calling for better from his team in the first of five successive games against non-New Zealand opposition.
“While we were happy with the attitude and effort against the Crusaders, we know we can be more clinical and have learnt a lot about ourselves,” he said.
“It’s nice to get a bit of continuity from a selection point of view for our first outing at home.”
Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Latu Vaeno, Seta Tamanivalu, Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-capt), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Maama Vaipulu, Sam Cane (co-capt), Tom Sanders, Brodie Retallick, Michael Allardice, Hiroshi Yamashita, Rhys Marshall, Pauliasi Manu. Res: Nathan Harris, Mitchell Graham, Siate Tokolahi, Taleni Seu, Michael Leitch, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Glen Fisiiahi.