Classy All Black Richard Kahui is back and ‘Mr Fix-It’ Dwayne Sweeney gets the nod on the wing in the Chiefs lineup to tackle the Bulls in Sunday’s Super 14 final in Pretoria.
It’s a predictable match 22, with coach Ian Foster having little to puzzle once Kahui was declared fit after his recent calf muscle problems which forced him to miss the last two matches.
Rugbyheaven NZ reports that Kahui’s return adds some real cut and thrust to the Chiefs midfield, with the strong ball-runner sure to enjoy the likely hard and fast conditions at Loftus Versfeld.
It was only on the wing, after Sitiveni Sivivatu’s dislocated shoulder suffered in last weekend’s semifinal win over the Hurricanes, that Foster had much to ponder, with a choice between the versatile Sweeney and speedster Sosene Anesi.
In the end that was a pretty straightforward decision for the Chiefs coach, with Sweeney having admirably filled the breach both on the wing and in midfield throughout this campaign.
Said Foster: “The team is excited by the occasion at Loftus. We travelled well, we are all looking forward to being in a final, and we’ll be ready for the task ahead.”
Sweeney had previously filled in at No 13 jersey for the Chiefs as they completed the round-robin with a win over the Brumbies, then downed the Hurricanes in their historic semifinal in Hamilton.
But now the versatile back, dubbed “Mr Fix-It” by his coach, finds himself on the left wing where he played so well previously in Sivivatu’s absence that he was called ‘Sweenivatu’ by his team-mates.
Meanwhile, loose forward Liam Messam will play his 50th game for the Chiefs in the final.
The Bulls are strong favourites to claim their second Super 14 title when they run out in front of their home fans for the match which kicks off at 3.30am Sunday (NZ time).
But the Chiefs have won 10 of their last 11 matches in their fairytale season, and believe they have one more big performance left in them, despite the travails of the week’s travel.
Kahui’s return, offsetting the defection of Sivivatu, and confirmation of an otherwise fully fit lineup should help in that area.
CHIEFS: 15 Mils Muliaina (capt), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Toby Morland; 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 James McGougan, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Reserves: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Joe Savage, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 David Bason, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Sosene Anesi.