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Young Chiefs halfback gets first start

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/04/2017

New Zealand under-20 halfback Jonathan Taumateine will make his first start for the Chiefs when they clash with the Sunwolves in Hamilton this Saturday night.

The Counties Manukau player gets his chance with Tawera Kerr Barlow being rested after suffering a concussion in their 16-7 win against the Western Force in Perth. © Phil Walter/Getty Images The Counties Manukau player gets his chance with Tawera Kerr Barlow being rested after suffering a concussion in their 16-7 win against the Western Force in Perth. The Counties Manukau player gets his chance with Tawera Kerr Barlow being rested after suffering a concussion in their 16-7 win against the Western Force in Perth.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has plenty of faith in the 20-year-old following his impressive display at the Brisbane Global 10s and a couple of cameos off the bench earlier this season.

"We expect Jonathan to bring a lot of energy. He's probably our fittest player along with Tawera. He's got great feet and a really good skill set so it's an exciting opportunity for him."

Rennie's hand was forced after back-up halfback Finlay Christie was suspended for three weeks.

Sanzaar's foul play review committee found the Tasman player guilty of recklessly stamping on an opponent leaving the Chiefs coach feeling frustrated.

"We didn't argue it in the end, clearly his foot has come in contact with the head but it's ricocheted off someone else's leg.

"We're disappointed for Fin as it's a pretty minor offence so we just hope that Sanzaar are consistent."

Rennie's also in no rush to get Charlie Ngatai back on the field after the All Black centre played his first game of rugby in almost a year for club side University at the weekend.

Ngatai has had a prolonged time out of the game after suffering a serious concussion against the Highlanders in May.

"Charlie has got himself in pretty good nick. He's certainly leaned down and has a bit more muscle mass than he did last year, and is still very quick.

"We just want him confident, so playing a bit of club footy will be good for him so we certainly won't be considering him this week," Rennie said.

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