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Chiefs welcome back All Blacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/05/2017

The Chiefs have named an experienced team to tackle the Queensland Reds in New Plymouth on Saturday night.

Charlie Ngatai will play his first game of Super Rugby in almost a year after being out of the game with concussion symptoms.

Assistant coach Neil Barnes is rapt to have the oneTest All Black back in the midfield.

"We're delighted for him because it's been a long haul back and it adds to our team as he's a very experienced player with a lot of ability.

"We can't expect him to hit his straps straight away but I expect everyone else to be working hard to make it easier for him.

"I admire his tenacity because a lot of people would have given up after that amount of time," Barnes said.

The Chiefs have surprisingly left Liam Messam on the bench again, choosing to start local boy Mitchell Brown at blind-side flanker.

"Mitchell has shown a lot of physicality on defence and he's a very skilful player so we're just giving him an opportunity to start," Barnes said.

"He's earned his stripes and has been conscientious in training, and delivering the goods when he's come onto the paddock."

Nathan Harris could also make his first appearance for the Chiefs this season after injuring his knee at an All Black training camp last year.

"Nathan's in great nick and he's got his confidence back as well so we thought we would give him a shot off the bench."

The Chiefs however aren't looking too far ahead with a bye next week before they face the unbeaten Crusaders in Suva.

"To be honest we haven't talked about that as we just want to get our house in order in this game against a good Reds side and put in a performance we're proud of," Barnes said.

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