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Donald steps up for Chiefs

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/07/2016

Former All Black Stephen Donald's big-match experience has earned him a start for the Chiefs in their Super Rugby quarter-final against the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday.

Donald's inclusion at second five-eighth is one of six changes made to the starting line-up which lost 25-15 to the Highlanders last week.

Covering for the injured Seta Tamanivalu, Donald will provide a steadying influence for young midfielder Anton Lienert, who has been pushed out to centre.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie had no reservations about promoting New Zealand's 2011 World Cup hero following a series of injuries to the midfield backs.

"The one thing we know with Stephen is that he's very experienced, and he will really help Aaron Cruden in regard to voice around the park this weekend," Rennie said.

Brad Weber gets the nod at halfback over All Black incumbent Tawera Kerr-Barlow while Sam Nicol starts on the wing ahead of Toni Pulu.

In the forwards, Taleni Seu moves to blindside flanker after Liam Messam failed to secure clearance from Super Rugby officials to play, while Tom Saunders shifts to No.8.

Rennie was disappointed by the SANZAR decision which prevented him from selecting Messam.

"As you can see from our bench, it leaves us with a couple of sevens which is not ideal," he said.

"But we've got a pretty good side on the field and we're happy with the way the guys have prepared.

"We're hoping that the tough footie we have had to play week in and week out will help, but the Stormers are going to lift to another level in front of their fans so it's going to be a good challenge."

Rennie has also made several changes in the reserves, with Mitchell Graham recovering from a hamstring injury to rejoin the playing 23 while Shaun Stevenson returns from New Zealand under-20's duty.

Tevita Koloamatangi could make his first Super Rugby appearance in 2016 having been sidelined for most of the season with injuries.

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Sam McNicol, Anton Lienert-Brown, Stephen Donald, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden, Brad Weber, Tom Sanders, Sam Cane, Taleni Seu, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Atu Moli, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames. Reserves: Hika Elliot, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Mitchell Graham, Tevita Koloamatangi, Lachlan Boshier, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Toni Pulu, Shaun Stevenson.

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