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Chiefs' Ngatai suffers fresh headaches

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/05/2017

Fog has once again descended on Charlie Ngatai's rugby future after the Chiefs midfielder was forced to withdraw from this weekend's Super Rugby match against the Crusaders in Fiji with fresh headaches.

The one-time All Black has only just returned to the field after a year out with concussion symptoms, making his return 11 days ago in the Chiefs' 46-17 win over the Reds in New Plymouth.

But the headaches that plagued the 26-year-old throughout 2016 returned after training on Monday afternoon, with no apparent cause.

He will sit out the match in Suva, with Anton Lienert-Brown moving over to second-five and Sam McNicol slotting into centre.

"Charlie developed a headache after training and we're not sure why, but we're taking a precautionary approach," Chiefs assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge said on Wednesday.

"We want to look after him."

Elsewhere, the Waikato-based side have made four other changes to their starting line-up for the clash in tropical conditions.

All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris will make his first start of the season after recovering from an ACL tear, pushing veteran Hika Elliot to the bench.

Aaron Cruden has recovered from a head knock and will co-captain the side, while Tim Nanai-Williams will make his long-awaited return on the right edge.

Nanai-Williams has been out for more than two months after dislocating his shoulder, and replaces the dropped Toni Pulu.

Veteran Stephen Donald has been named in the reserves.

CHIEFS: Damian McKenzie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Sam McNicol, Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-capt), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane (co-capt), Mitchell Brown, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames. RESERVES: Hika Elliot, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Atu Moli, Taleni Seu, Liam Messam, Jonathan Taumateine, Stephen Donald, Shaun Stevenson.

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