HAMILTON – Chiefs coach Colin Cooper said his team were well prepared for their Sunwolves clash at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo for the first time this Saturday.
The away side come in to this game buoyed by two confidence-building wins in recent weeks against the Blues and the Bulls.
The Sunwolves were also very impressive in Johannesburg last weekend, narrowly losing to last year’s Super Rugby finalists the Lions by just 2 points.
“We’re really excited to be here in Tokyo, Japan. It’s the first time the Chiefs have been here to play in this Super Rugby competition so it’s a historic occasion," said Cooper.
"We know how tough the Sunwolves will be to beat at their home ground so we’re focused on preparing really well for a tough match on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re always seeking to create healthy competition among our group of men and there are a few players who have really put their hand up by training the house down these past few weeks. It’s great to be able to reward that effort with an opportunity.
"Marty McKenzie has earned a start at fullback and Mitchell Karpik comes onto the bench as loose forward cover.
"We’ve been hugely impressed with Mitch Karpik’s work ethic and he had an outstanding game for the University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team last weekend, his performance has demanded a place in the 23 this week.
Cooper has made five changes to the starting fifteen who battled to the impressive 41-28 win over the Bulls at home last Friday. Canadian recruit Tyler Ardron comes in to the locking department to partner Brodie Retallick.
It’s the Canadian’s first start for the team, after an impressive cameo off the bench against the Blues in Round Three. Taleni Seu also comes in to the loose forwards after a rest last weekend.
In the backline, quick-footed Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi starts at scrumhalf, after making a fantastic impact as a substitute against the Bulls last week.
Speedster Toni Pulu is back from injury for the first time this season at right-wing and Marty McKenzie starts at fullback with brother Damian moving to flyhalf.
15 Marty McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Fa'auli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Taleni Seu, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Karl Tu'inukaufe, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Sean Wainui, 23 Bailyn Sullivan.
African News Agency (ANA)