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Messam, Fa'auli in for Chiefs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017

The Chiefs have made three changes to their starting line-up for Friday's all-Kiwi Super Rugby derby with the Blues in Auckland.

Club veteran Liam Messam is back in the No.8 jumper, replacing rested Japanese Test skipper Michael Leitch.

Lachlan Boshier comes onto the bench in place of Messam.

Taranaki ace Johnny Fa'auli returns to the midfield after last month's suspension for a dangerous tackle, pushing All Black Anton Lienert-Brown from second-five to his preferred centre position.

Concussed trio Charlie Ngatai, Stephen Donald and Sam McNicol will all miss the Battle of the Bombays as they follow return-to-pay protocols, while speedster Toni Pulu is nursing a hamstring injury.

The Chiefs, sitting in equal-second in the New Zealand conference, have won their last 11 fixtures against the Blues, who are all but eliminated from the Super Rugby finals race.

A victory over their Auckland-based rivals would go a long way towards securing second in the conference and a trip to Australia instead of South Africa.

CHIEFS: Damian McKenzie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Johnny Fa'auli, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-capt), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam, 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, Lachlan Boshier, Jonathan Taumateine, Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson.

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