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Rennie backs Lienert-Brown against Ioane

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/02/2017

Anton Lienert-Brown © Simon Watts/Getty Images Anton Lienert-Brown Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is backing his midfield to stand up against Rieko Ioane and the Blues' backs when the two sides clash in Hamilton on Friday.

The Auckland-based Blues showed all their skills in Melbourne last Thursday, pummelling the Rebels 56-18 with Ioane grabbing a hat-trick.

Rennie has every confidence his own All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown will get the job done against the 19-year-old superstar.

"Anton is an outstanding tackler and that's going to be handy when you are talking about Rieko.

"He's good at reading the play and defending against front line players but is also able to shut down options."

Rennie has no doubts either about the difference 21-year-old Lienert-Brown will make to his side on attack.

"Anton's got the best creative pass in the game I reckon, with his ability to challenge but still link in unorthodox ways.

"If you look at the numbers we look at, his work rate off the ball is just outstanding - it would be the best of any midfielder in this competition."

The Chiefs could also bring Sam Cane off the bench this weekend as the open side flanker continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

However Rennie may give Mitchell Karpik another start against his former province after the No.7 produced the goods in their 24-15 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin last weekend.

"He's certainly got a lot of Sam Cane-type qualities" Rennie said after the Chiefs secured the 21-year-old Bay of Plenty loosie until the end of the 2019 season.

"Mitchell's a great young man and has a phenomenal work rate, and a great ticker so he'll have a big future."

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