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Chiefs brace for Cheetahs backlash

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/04/2017

The Chiefs are bracing for a Cheetahs backlash in Bloemfontein this weekend as the South Africans face the chop in next season's revamped Super Rugby competition.

Assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge is expecting the boys from the high veldt to have plenty to play for, with the franchise's future on the line.

"They'll be upset their names have been linked with extinction, and we spoke about how we would feel if that was us, so they will be dangerous," he said.

"The Cheetahs would have seen what the Stormers were able to do to us around the edges of the rucks and some of the yardage they were able to get there, so they'll see that as a glimmer of hope."

The Chiefs have recalled Sam Cane, who missed last week's 34-26 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town with concussion, while Mitchell Brown gets another chance to impress at blind side, replacing Liam Messam.

"Mitch made some real impact off the bench against the Stormers and his clean out was very aggressive," Strawbridge said.

"He's not put a foot wrong with his opportunities and is vying hard for a more consistent selection in that six jersey."

The Chiefs are also looking to freshen things up in the tight forwards, with Brayden Mitchell getting his first start at hooker and Taleni Seu moving to lock.

"We're looking to speed things up and Hika Elliot has had a lot of rugby so Brayden gets his chance.

"Taleni added some real impetus last week and was one of the few forwards to carry the ball past the gain line so we're looking for him to do that from the start."

The Chiefs will also have a new-look midfield with Anton Lienert-Brown moving into second five-eighth, giving Sam McNicol a chance at centre.

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Toni Pulu, Sam McNicol, Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane, Mitchell Brown, Brodie Retallick, Taleni Seu, Atu Moli, Brayden Mitchell, Kane Hames. Reserves: Hika Elliot, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Sosefo Kautai, Dominic Bird, Liam Messam, Finlay Christie, Alex Nankivell, Shaun Stevenson.

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