Halfback Brendon Leonard returns to the Chiefs line-up to take on the Cheetahs in round four of the Rebel Sport Super 14 in Hamilton this Saturday night.
The Chiefs website reports that Leonard, 22, has recovered from a haematoma to his thigh which he suffered two weeks ago when the Chiefs last played at home against the Waratahs.
He will combine with first five-eighth Stephen Donald, second five-eighth Callum Bruce and Dwayne Sweeney at centre.
Meanwhile, experienced back Mils Muliaina will captain the Chiefs for the first time this weekend.
Chiefs coach Ian Foster said: “We have had to rethink the captaincy for our team this week with Jono’s injury. We worked with our leadership group who discussed the best options for our team. While Tom Willis has done a great job in the past with this role, it was felt that Mils was in a good place to lead this Chiefs team.”
“Mils is a quality, experienced footballer and has a good feel of where the team is at. The extra responsibility that comes with being captain is a new challenge for him in his rugby career.”
Foster has made changes to the Chiefs forward pack this week. The loose forward trio sees openside flanker Tom Harding and blindside flanker Faifili Levave earning their first starting spots for the Chiefs. Sione Lauaki remains at number eight.
In the tight five, lock Toby Lynn gets a starting XV position for the first time this season along with tighthead prop Ben May, who replaces Ben Castle in the number three jersey.
“We’re expecting a very physical game against the Cheetahs. They have had two last minute losses and then challenged the Blues physically in last week’s outing. They represent a big challenge for us coming off our loss last week.”
The Chiefs team to play the Cheetahs on Saturday 8 March at 7.35pm at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton is:
Starting XV: 1. Simms Davison, 2. Tom Willis, 3. Ben May, 4. Toby Lynn, 5. Kevin O’Neill, 6. Faifili Levave, 7. Tom Harding, 8. Sione Lauaki, 9. Brendon Leonard, 10. Stephen Donald, 11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12. Callum Bruce, 13. Dwayne Sweeney, 14. Sosene Anesi, 15. Mils Muliaina (captain).
Reserves:16. Vern Kamo, 17. Ben Castle, 18. Hayden Hopgood, 19. Liam Messam, 20. Tanerau Latimer, 21. David Bason, 22. Lelia Masaga.
Note: Players not considered due to injury include: Richard Kahui (ankle), Aled de Malmanche (groin), Kristian Ormsby (shoulder), Jono Gibbes (hamstring) and Jamie Nutbrown (knee).
Kristian Ormsby’s unstable shoulder, a suspected bankart lesion, will require surgery. He will be out of contention for the remainder of the Chiefs season. He is officially replaced by Chiefs Wider Training Group lock Mark Burman.Tweet