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Depleted Chiefs confident in squad depth

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/03/2017

Chiefs boss Dave Rennie insists the side are in good shape despite losing several key players in their bruising Hurricanes encounter on Friday.

Japanese No.8 Michael Leitch has been suspended by SANZAR for one week following a late-game high tackle on Ricky Riccitelli, while utility Tim Nanai-Williams has dislocated his shoulder.

The Samoan international, who departed early in his side's 26-18 triumph, will miss at least four weeks of Super Rugby action.

Yet despite the losses, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was optimistic the side's strength in depth would shine through.

"We've had three different No.7s start over the past three weeks and they have all gone really well," Rennie told reporters.

"I thought Mitchell Brown was really strong at the weekend so with Leitch being suspended, we're fortunate we have a bit of depth in that position."

The impact of the Brave Blossoms captain's suspension will be minimised by the return of rested Test loosie Liam Messam.

The Chiefs also have plenty of options in midfield, with veteran Stephen Donald producing the goods after Nanai-Williams' early injury.

Yet despite Donald's strong showing, Taranaki ace Johnny Fa'auli is likely to return to the starting XV alongside Anton Lienert-Brown for the side's clash against the Rebels on Friday.

"Stephen had a big defensive night and though he didn't get to carry a lot of ball, his voice out there was massive," Rennie said.

"He was pretty excited to get through so many minutes."

Departing winger James Lowe will be rested for the Melbourne trip.

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